Compared to existing devices on the market that try to locate veins with lights or heat strips, the GTRI-developed system will be faster and more reliable, says Connell Reynolds, founder of Reynolds Medical Inc., a medical device manufacturer in Fairburn, Ga., that is sponsoring the project.
A former paramedic, Reynolds says the vein finder will be invaluable for a variety of medical users, including ambulance services, hospital emergency rooms, clinics, the military and nursing homes.
"For example, IV (intravenous) insertion is especially difficult in dehydrated patients because their blood vessels lack normal volume," he explains. "Similarly, because cardiac patients' hearts aren't pumping properly, their veins are hard to locate. It's also difficult to find veins in obese people and young children because their vessels are covered by layers of fat."
In addition to speed, the vein finder's accuracy will make treatment easier for hospital patients who need ongoing IVs or blood work.
Larsen recalls a hospital stay of his own that required numerous blood tests. This resulted in swelling and inflammation in his arms, making it increasingly more difficult for nurses to find his veins. "It often took seven or eight tries," he says. "It wasn't long before I felt like a pin cushion."