Electromagnetic Tracking Enhances Medical Devices
Posted: May 12, 2023
What is a Medical Device?
A medical device is any instrument, machine, or device that is used to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure a disease. It can also be something that affects the structure or function of the body, such as contact lenses or cochlear implants.
In simpler terms, a medical device is essentially anything intended by the manufacturer to be used for a medical purpose. Paramedics, doctors, dentists, opticians, and other health-care professionals rely on numerous medical devices daily to do their jobs. People also use medical devices at home, such as bandages and thermometers. It is estimated that there are two million different kinds of medical devices on the world market!
Some medical devices benefit from tracking capabilities, such as tracking the exact location of an ultrasound wand or catheter device. One way to do this is by using electromagnetic tracking.
How does Electromagnetic tracking make medical devices better?
Electromagnetic (EM) tracking allows medical professionals to understand the position and orientation of medical devices, to a sub-millimeter level of accuracy. Another benefit of EM tracking is that it can track in and around people, walls, and even tools– no line-of-sight between the EM tracking components is required. This gives doctors the ability to track where devices are in 3D space and angular orientation, providing an added level of situational awareness.
Electromagnetic tracking is used to make medical devices and procedures safer and more accurate.
One of the most common uses of EM tracking in medical devices is for surgical navigation. Surgeons use EM tracking to precisely locate the position of instruments in relation to a patient's anatomy during surgery. This allows them to perform procedures with greater accuracy and precision, leading to improved patient outcomes.
Another application of EM tracking in medical devices is in image-guided procedures. For example, EM tracking can be used to guide the placement of catheters, guidewires, or needles during minimally invasive procedures such as biopsies, ablations, or injections. By providing real-time tracking of the instruments, EM tracking can help physicians accurately target the area of interest, while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. It is also possible to combine tracking data with pre-acquired CT or MRI images to help enable instrument visualization and correct navigation during certain procedures.
Overall, electromagnetic tracking is used to make medical devices and procedures safer and more accurate. EM tracking adds an extra layer of precision and safety by relaying the position and orientation of instruments with extreme accuracy in real-time to the medical professionals performing the procedure.
Commonly used devices that benefit from electromagnetic tracking include:
• Robotic surgery
• Dental tools
Polhemus is known for our proprietary electromagnetic tracking technology. Our technology is embeddable in most form factors, including medical devices as small as a catheter. If we are unable to embed our sensor, it’s likely we can use tip offset to achieve desired results.
Our tracking technology requires no calibration and delivers continuous data, free of dropouts. Polhemus sensors track to sub-millimeter accuracy and have an ultra-fast update rate. The newest tracker from Polhemus, VIPER, has an update rate of 960 Hz, allowing it to track even the subtlest movements. VIPER has also been rigorously tested to IEC 60601-1-2 Medical Electrical Equipment and IEC 60601-1 Electrical Safety standards.
Polhemus electromagnetic tracking technology has been used in applications for over 50 years. There are countless ways in which our technology can be used, and as the medical field is rapidly advancing, we’re eager to see what medical device we can enable next.