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Jul. 31, 2014 7:59 am

How a Hopkins doctor is making post-surgery blood clots easier to detect

Dr. Devin Coon's company, Sonavex, is building a system for patients recovering from reconstructive surgeries.

Dr. Devin Coon discusses EchoSure at the Baltimore TechBreakfast.

(Photo by Tyler Waldman)

Time is critical in catching blood clots after reconstructive surgery. A few hours can be the difference between a minor procedure, a major revision or worse.

“If you recognize it too late, the clot grows like a spider and crawls out into all the nooks and crannies,” said Dr. Devin Coon, a Johns Hopkins reconstructive surgeon.

Coon is helping to develop a way to help medical professionals catch clots faster. He presented Wednesday at the Baltimore TechBreakfast in Mount Washington.

His company, Sonavex, is developing EchoSure, a system for a tiny implant that can be wrapped around a vein and artery at the surgical site.

“The two-part solution consists first of an absorbable, echogenic marker placed underneath the vessels at the surgical site (EchoMark) and software (EchoFind) to guide users to the right position and extract blood flow data,” the company explains on its website.

Using a doppler ultrasound or the company’s own software, a non-expert medical professional (i.e., a nurse or ultrasound tech) can determine how well blood is flowing to the area.

Clots will form after between seven and 15 percent of reconstructive surgeries, Coon said. Many of those clots require new procedures. Right now, doctors use a color duplex ultrasound to detect clots.

“It’s too complicated for bedside providers like nurses to use this routinely,” said Coon, Sonavex’s chairman and chief medical officer.

Currently, EchoSure is in animal testing, the only level of testing required under FDA rules for such devices, Coon said. He showed imagery of a healthy pig’s ultrasound. The artery glowed a solid red, while the vein pulsed blue. On another pig’s clotted blood vessels, the artery indicator was dark while the vein dully flashed blue.

“It’s really easy to use if you can give people that visual feedback,” Coon said.

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Tyler Waldman

Tyler Waldman is lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A Towson University graduate and former local editor for Patch.com, Tyler has also written and photographed for publications including the Baltimore Brew, Howard County Times and Towson Times. He lives in Charles Village.

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  • Kaye Gibson

    As an advanced nurse candidate nearing graduation from the top nursing school in the country, it is highly offensive to hear this doctor refer to nurses as “nonexperts,” and “its too complicated.” This demonstrates his arrogance and ignorance as to the capabilities of today’s nursing profession which is tremendously specialized and skilled. Hopkins has a program where medical, nursing, and pharmacy students train together clinically as a team. The purpose is to create a learning atmosphere where each can better understand what one another does. Makes gor more effective and efficient health care. Sounds like this doc could really benefit from such a program.

  • Karen Herring

    This article is ridiculous and offensive. The sentence non medical expert i.e nurse or ultrasound tech is a slap in the face to sonographers who save lives daily by using their expertise and skilled training to detect dvt in patients.

  • Jennifer Hanratty McDow

    Why would anyone refer to Nurses or Sonographers as non professionals? I find that extremely offenses. I am a Sonographer and I have a degree. Our program is very extensive and difficult. If anyone is an expert at ultrasound, it’s us. You need to educate yourself before writing things like this.