Background

Developed by Physicians for Physicians

Where do all great ideas come from? A cocktail napkin of course, and the concept for the AxoTrack-equipped ultrasound probe is no different. As an emergency department physician, Stephen F. Ridley, MD experienced firsthand the challenges physicians face every day when they're trying to place central venous catheters – time is usually of the essence, the patient is often in serious condition, and the risks of complications are very real.

Dr. Ridley first sketched the design for the AxoTrack-equipped ultrasound probe on a cocktail napkin in 2002 after being unable to teach a colleague how to perform an ultrasound-guided central line placement. It was this experience that made him realize a simpler solution was needed. Calling on his engineering experience prior to his career in medicine, Dr. Ridley started with a simple but radically different approach to ultrasound needle visualization.

Believing his idea had merit, Dr. Ridley met with Dexter Hagy, who had experience bringing new medical products and technology to market. Soon after, Soma Access Systems was established. The team's first step was to outline the criteria for the design of the AxoTrack-equipped ultrasound probe:

  • It had to be easy to use and simple to learn, requiring little to no training
  • It had to provide real-time visual tracking of the needle throughout the entire procedure
  • It had to be accurate
  • It had to incorporate the Modified Seldinger Technique
  • The technology had to be simple and robust enough to be used at the point-of-care

Finding a reliable visualization technology was the most significant challenge, and, after a year of researching different technologies, the team found the answer in position-sensing technology using magnetic fields. Built on patented aerospace technology, Soma modified, miniaturized and created new algorithms for magnetic sensors, enabling them to be built into the body of the ultrasound imaging probe. The end result is revolutionary technology that provides amazingly accurate real-time needle tracking throughout an entire procedure, from skin puncture to cannulation of the desired vessel and guidewire passage, minimizing many of the risks associated with traditional methods.