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New technology in circulation

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By Tom Larson

Sun Tribune

There's long been an assumption that to receive cutting-edge medical care, a patient had to go to a large city and a large hospital or clinic.

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But there are plenty of examples in rural areas indicating that's not always the case. One is Stevens Community Medical Center's acquisition of the OxyVu-1, technology from HyperMed that allows physicians to gauge the healing potential of a wound.

SCMC currently is just one of 13 medical centers in the U.S. employing the new equipment.

SCMC podiatrist Alex Lebrija said the HyperMed tool represents existing technology "on steroids. You have one probe taped to a finger and you could only read six spots. With this machine, you get infinite readings. You can get a reading of oxygen pressure coming through a foot at any place."

In addition, previous technology meant a 30 minute wait while electrodes were attached and readings were taken. The HyperMed machine takes five minutes and there is no contact with the wound, reducing the possibility of infection or other complications, Lebrija said.

Lebrija said he first saw the OxyVu-1 at a conference and "it kind of blew me away."

He contacted the company about getting one. The machine was on the market earlier this year, and SCMC got its OxyVu-1 late last month. SCMC is, by far, the smallest facility with the technology, Lebrija said.

"(The company technician) was at Ohio State the day before," Lebrija said. "But it kind of proved that we're on the cutting edge here and we're doing some high tech things."

The OxyVu-1 gives the podiatrist oxygenation, deoxygenation and oxygen saturation readings on a color scan. An actual photograph of the affected area also can be read. With just a touch of a stylus or a finger, the physician can get accurate readings of any area in the scan. The doctor then can quickly determine if a wound has the potential to heal or if the patient may require an amputation. The technology is especially helpful in assessing diabetic feet problems and vascular disease.

"Is this wound going to heal or not? Does this person have the potential for getting better?" Lebrija said. "If a wound is not going to heal, you're not going to waste six months trying to get it to heal."

Since patient confidence and compliance is critical to treating problems, the accuracy of the OxyVu-1 is vital.

"This tells me exactly what's going on, and I can show the person exactly what's going on," Lebrija said. "They don't have to believe what I'm telling them, I can show them what I'm telling them."

And in a general sense, having such technology provides confidence across the board, he said.

"We're pretty proud of our wound care here," Lebrija said. "In this facility, we're taking strides to make sure we have the best medical care technology has to offer."

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