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Medicine - the Esprit contribution
Research under Esprit into IT in medicine will greatly influence the future outlook of the medical sector. Better access to information, more efficient data exchange, increased data processing capabilities allowing real-time and on-line diagnostics, simulation of results and stimulation of distributed decision-making processes are all results that are opening up new avenues in the practice of medicine.
Esprit research results are also directly benefiting the medical sector in the provision of more efficient tools, e.g. better performing medical instrumentation, more efficient diagnostic systems and improved medical components. The following projects are a good illustration of the contribution made by Esprit to a variety of medical applications and products.
BARMINT is a basic research project launched in 1993 with the aim of identifying the processes and tools needed for the development of microsystems. The project has relied on the development of a demonstrator which includes a micropump, a multisensor measuring chamber and the allied electronic technologies. The whole has been associated with 3-D assembly processes. The project has initiated or contributed to innovations such as the launch of a CMP microsystem by INPG-TIMA (Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble), a translator concept and behavioural model developed by Technische Hochschule Darmstadt, CMOS and sensor technology compatibility by Centro Nacional de Microelectronica, micropump development and 3-D assembly technologies by LAAS-CNRS (Laboratoire d'Analyse et d'Architecture des Systèmes) and NMRC (National Microelectronics Research Centre), and models/tools for thermal, thermo-mechanical and functional simulation by the University of Barcelona, Technical University of Budapest and the Technical University of Lodz.
Contact: Frédéric THIEVENAZ
tel +33 561 336 498 - fax +33 561 553 577 - firstname.lastname@example.org
The MIVIP project aims to make use of microsystems-based prototypes in the field of rehabilitation engineering, and to demonstrate the efficacy of a prototype visual prosthesis interfaced with the optic nerve. The objectives of this microsystems project are to design an artificial eye driving, via an external visual processor, an implantable neuro-stimulator. Acting directly upon a peripheral and passive neural structure is an advantage in blindness rehabilitation, provided that safe and selective electrical activation of the optic nerve fibres is feasible. The partners in this proposal have already developed a commercialised spiral cuff electrode (SCE1) and demonstrated its efficiency in selective nerve fibre activation.
Contact: Michael VERLEYSEN, Université Catholique de Louvain (B)
tel +32 10 472 551 - fax +32 10 472 598 - email@example.com
IMICS project researchers are working on an integrated catheter system capable of providing within a single device all the functions associated with in vivo sensing, diagnosis and removal of arterial plaque. A guide wire with a forward-looking ultrasound transducer mounted at its tip has been developed to aid in locating the precise position of narrowing or a total occlusion in the blood vessel. The electronics associated with the diagnostic functions, positioning and therapeutic control of the catheter system take the form of ASIC modules mounted behind the ultrasound subsystem at the catheter tip. A sideways-looking circular ultrasound array (20 MHz, 128 elements) provides cross-sectional images of the plaque causing the vessel occlusion. Forward-looking capability is realised by a single element transducer (size 250 µm) mounted at the tip of a 0.014" guide wire.
Contact: Silvana DAGA, Guidnant (B)
tel +32 2 714 1411 - fax +32 2 714 1412 - firstname.lastname@example.org
The aim of the IMALP project is to develop an implantable blood-pump capable of improving the functioning of cirrhotic livers. The system comprises a fully implantable electric micro-pump that incorporates 'smart' flow capability by using pressure and temperature sensors based on CMOS technology. The motor-pump will be powered by a lithium rechargeable battery, which will in turn be energised from an RF antenna or low-frequency magnetic loop implanted in the subcutaneous tissue. A communications link is required to provide telemetric control and delivery of sensing signals to the external monitoring system. The minimum operational lifetime for the implanted system is set at three months, but the eventual target is one year of continuous operation.
Contact: Silvana DAGA, Guidnant (B)
tel +32 2 714 1411 - fax +32 2 714 1412 - email@example.com
The MICROMEDES project has overseen the development of a new infusion system that consists of an implantable programmable infusion pump, the external processing unit, a telemetry unit and a printer. The infusion pump consists of two separate chambers. The exterior chamber (pressure chamber) contains chemically inert liquid as a drive medium, while the interior chamber, which takes the form of an oval-shaped bellows made of titanium, constitutes the drug chamber. A catheter made of silicon is connected to the pump, to move the drug to different locations. The key elements in the infusion pump are the microprocessor and the flow control system. An integral antenna is also fitted to the unit, to support telemetry-based communication with the external processing unit. The flow rate of the pump can be changed via controls on the external processing unit, and shown on a display.
Contact: Volker ZACHARIAS, Tricumed (d)
tel +49 431 7099 00 - fax +49 431 7099 099 - firstname.lastname@example.org
HIPOCRAT aims to develop a miniature low-power hybrid circuit devoted to human implantable cardiac prostheses (pacemakers and defibrillators), which are highly reliable lightweight battery-powered systems. The project objective implies developing three ASICs and a substrate encompassing the packaged dies and external components required. Two ASICs will be designed using a low-voltage 'BICMOS5' process from ST. These will be mixed chips integrating all the specific prostheses functions and an 8-bit microcontroller with fast telemetry function. A protection and interface circuit will be developed using the high voltage 'CBZ' process from AMS. The stand is presenting these two types of prostheses, and will show the key role of hybrid circuits with their benefits in terms of size, consumption and reliability.
Contact: Thierry LEGAY, ELA Recherche (F)
tel +33 1 4601 3355 - fax +33 1 4601 3457 - email@example.com
New-generation hearing aids using Digital Signal Processing techniques (DSP) can adapt better than earlier models to the surrounding sound environment, providing maximum speech recognition and avoiding unpleasant sound images. In the HEARMASTER project, new techniques of mixed-signal testing are being developed for the latest generation of hearing aids. Project partners Oticon and microLEX have set up new methods for qualifying the revolutionary features made possible by DSP technology. Techniques based on multi-tone testing, music images and special sound images are now available as a result of the project. The stand at EITC shows some of the improvements available with new generation systems like DigiFocus. A live event also demonstrates hearing testing based upon the new methods.
Contact: Birger SCHNEIDER, microLEX Systems A/S (DK)
tel +45 45 762100 ext. 111 - fax +45 45 762200 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Optical chemical sensors are finding increased application in the medical field due to their fundamental advantages over the use of electrodes. A goal of the QUANTUM project is to introduce luminescence decay time measurements to blood gas analysis, to replace optical sensor systems based on intensity measurements. Another objective for the project is to transfer this technology to other medical applications, as to do so could lead to innovative new products in, for example, breath-to-breath oxygen analysis, luminescence decay time measurements and imaging of the oxygen supply in the human skin. The stand at EITC provides an insight into the existing blood gas analysis device (AVL OPTI 1), which uses optical chemical sensors. The novel opto-electronics developed within project QUANTUM are shown for comparison.
Contact: Paul HARTMANN, AVL List GmbH
tel +43 316 787 1096 - fax +43 316 787 138 - email@example.com
Partners in the NICE project are showing how advances in transducer array technology and data processing can improve the quality of ultrasound images and thus clinical diagnostics. Conventional ultrasound systems using linear (one-dimensional) arrays and a limited number of acquisition channels can give images only of a slice of a body. New transducer arrangements (two-dimensional and so-called 1.5D) have led to improvements in focus control and spatial resolution (1.5D arrays developed within the ULTIMA project will be displayed). The perspective of real-time volumetric imaging (the ultimate goal of the NICE project) will be illustrated by a video presentation of 3-D ultrasound scanning on the human body, using reconstructed data from present acquisition technology.
Contact: Jean-Marc BUREAU, Thomson Microsonics (F)
tel +33 4 9296 3556 - fax +33 4 9296 4080 - firstname.lastname@example.org
The objective of the MEDID project is to develop an innovative, high-sensitivity, flat panel detector of large area (> 40 x 40 cm), high resolution and high image processing capability. The purpose is to meet user requirements for digital real-time radiography with high reliability for operation in demanding work environments. Potential advantages include the possibility of replacing traditional radiological film, with its radiation dosage limits and the cost of film and chemicals, with a digital alternative offering real-time image availability. The detector panel has been developed, and is an active-matrix sensor in which each pixel is made of thin-film amorphous silicon photodiodes acting as sensing elements, coupled to switching diodes. These components are integrated into a digital detector that can be tested under real work conditions. A mechanical mock-up of the detector is on show here, together with radiography images obtained from early prototypes.
Contact: Luigi REBUFFI, Thomson Tubes Electroniques (F)
tel +33 1 3070 3588 - fax +33 1 3070 3556 - email@example.com
Researchers in the CHARM project are developing improved solutions to the problem of synthesising human movement. Using 3-D biomechanical human models, dynamic simulation of the musculo-skeletal system and improved rendering, work has focused on the movement of the shoulder/arm part of the human body. CHARM contributions include both the modelling of the shoulder/arm joint and musculature, and the tools for developing the models, which have a generic application. The results include reconstruction of the structures of the upper limb and its biomechanical model, and a motion simulation system complete with natural-language based interface, among others. Potential applications lie in biomedicine, sports, biomechanics and the high-quality rendering of images of the human body.
Contact: Joseph BLAT, Universitat Illes Balears (E)
tel +33 71 173 243 - fax +34 71 173 003 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Radiotherapy treatment planning is based on predictions of dosage delivered to cancer patients from an arrangement of radiation beams. The best predictions are obtained using Monte-Carlo computer simulation methods, but these take too long to be used in clinical practice. Instead, commercial treatment planning systems rely on simpler models which do not fully take account of the patient's internal anatomical structure. The RAPT project has addressed this problem by developing a parallel Monte-Carlo code for cranial radiosurgery simulation, to achieve a run-time of under one hour on an affordable system costing less than 150,000 ECU. RAPT-2 has integrated this code with patient CT data capture and user interface systems for use in a hospital environment. Project partners Parsytec and PAC (Parallel Applications Centre, University of Southampton) are now seeking an agreement with a medical equipment supplier to convert these innovative developments into a commercial product based on parallel computing technology. The EITC demonstration consists of a GUI running on a workstation, showing graphically a RAPT simulation setup and a visualisation of the results.
Contact: Mike SURRIDGE, PAC (UK)
tel +44 1703 760 834 - fax +44 1703 760 833 - email@example.com
One of the greatest difficulties facing healthcare organisations is their inability to assess the 'key indicators' set by public health authorities compared to their strategic targets, and to combine these targets with the objectives from stakeholders. Thesis HealthCheck (THC) is a PC-based software tool which allows simplified and user-friendly analysis of these key indicators for hospitals, showing a preliminary cause-effect relationship between activities and costs. At this stage in the product's development, critical areas are automatically identified and can be easily 'zoomed into' for further data analysis, process mapping and change (including the ability to use patient-level detail). The THC application shows data in both tabular and graphical forms. Any critical area is identified and shown in a user-friendly manner. Future releases of THC will support the identification of 'best practice' approaches, thus providing a benchmark by which hospitals can measure their performance and their progress over time.
Contact: Edward BENELLI, Falcon Rome (I)
tel +39 6 519 2705 (mobile +39 335 397774) - fax +39 6 519 0337 - firstname.lastname@example.org
The WIDE project is intended to help relaunch workflow systems as a basis for developing cooperative applications. Besides shorter development times, these new technologies should provide the flexibility associated with groupware, as workflow technology provides a common framework for different sectors to speak a common language. At EITC visitors can see the results of the WIDE project integrated into the FORO workflow system and functioning in a real environment. The environment selected here is the admissions process for the 'Hospital General de Manresa', one of the project partners. Visitors can see how business activities are dispatched to users, how these activities are completed and how the flow continues until the end of the business process. Demonstrations also show exceptions being raised to the normal flow, the sending of notifications to users and even changes to how flow interpretation is performed.
Contact: Gabriel SANCHEZ-GUTIERREZ, Sema Group sae (E)
tel +34 1 327 2828 - fax +34 1 754 3252 - email@example.com - www.sema.es/project/WIDE
The aim of COBRA is to establish the benefits of business process re-engineering for the healthcare sector, and developing the appropriate technology to support innovative new processes. The project has already integrated the administrative and clinical functions for the Surgical Directorate service within a hospital using software application front-ends. Applied to healthcare organisations, such an approach can offer considerable savings by reducing duplication of work. The concept utilises a three-tier architecture of client application, servers containing the business rules of the organisation and a relational database, and is implemented as a set of generic servers supporting the wider business environment. With this server infrastructure, it has been possible to develop protocol-driven applications that are process or department specific and utilise the flexibility offered by the architecture.
Contact: Terry FOSSEY, Irish Medical Systems (IRL)
tel +353 1 2840 555 (mobile +353 86 811 3112) - fax +353 1 2840 829 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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It was last updated on 22 November 1997, and is maintained by the EITC 97 Secretariat - email@example.com