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CentraCare Completes World’s First WATCHMAN Procedure Utilizing EchoPixel’s 4D Hologram Technology That Eliminates the Need for Contrast Dye

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

Procedure removes risk of kidney injury or complications in patients with advanced kidney disease or allergy to contrast dye

On Sept. 30, CentraCare completed the world’s first contrast-free WATCHMAN implant using 4D holographic therapy guidance, developed by EchoPixel, as the alternative imaging modality. Rather than relying on contrast dye and X-ray based imaging to help guide the implant placement, Jacob Dutcher, MD, an interventional cardiologist and director of the Structural Heart Program at CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center, performed the procedure using ultrasound-based 4D holographic imaging, which provides an image so clear that potentially harmful contrast dye wasn’t necessary.

Currently, physicians rely heavily on X-ray-based imaging to perform a WATCHMAN implant, which is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure for people with atrial fibrillation who need an alternative to blood thinners to protect them from a stroke. Approximately six million people in the U.S. suffer from atrial fibrillation and many of them are intolerant to blood thinners.

X-ray-based imaging requires the use of contrast dye to identify and delineate cardiac anatomy during procedures; yet contrast dye can be toxic to the kidneys, especially in patients with preexisting kidney disease, and can also cause allergic reactions.

Now, with the assistance of EchoPixel’s software platform, 4D holographic imaging allows people with atrial fibrillation and significant kidney disease to safely undergo the lifesaving WATCHMAN implant without risk of kidney damage.

“With standard X-ray-based imaging, there was always some doubt about the ability to see a person’s entire anatomy,” said Dr. Dutcher. “The superior image quality of a 4D hologram gives me more confidence that we’re really giving our patients the best possible results, and we are very excited that we can effectively implant the WATCHMAN without the use of contrast dye. Approximately 15% of our patients referred for this procedure have significant kidney disease, and we look forward to seeing if they can benefit from this novel approach.”

In May, Dr. Dutcher was first in the world to successfully complete a WATCHMAN procedure using EchoPixel’s pre-planning True3D software with its intra-operative Holographic Therapy Guidance (HTG) software platform. By leveraging mixed reality capabilities, EchoPixel brings precision to structural heart procedures by utilizing HTG, a transformative 4D technology that enables the entire heart team to interact with a patient’s specific organs and tissues as if they were actual, physical objects.

“It’s extremely gratifying to see that the enhanced spatial awareness our 4D-HTG technology enables minimally invasive procedures to be performed with fewer extraneous resources, thus allowing more patients to be treated,” said Sergio Aguirre, CEO of EchoPixel. “Dr. Dutcher has been a leader in this space, leveraging our technology to reduce procedure time and risk of complication, while improving accuracy.”

About CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center

CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center is one of the largest cardiovascular programs in Minnesota, offering the latest advancements in care, technology and treatment. In 2021 U.S. News & World Report rated the program as #35 in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery. It is part of CentraCare, a Minnesota health system that includes eight hospitals in St. Cloud, Long Prairie, Melrose, Monticello, Paynesville, Redwood Falls, Sauk Centre and Willmar. The health system also owns more than 30 clinics along with 18 senior housing facilities and long-term care facilities throughout the region.

About EchoPixel

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, EchoPixel is a venture capital-backed startup and a pioneer in creating the operating room of the future. The company’s technologies include the first pre-operative True3D planning platform and intra-operative Holographic Therapy Guidance (HTG) software, which allow physicians to interact with patient-specific organs and tissues as if they were actual, physical objects. EchoPixel’s True3D software platform has already become the standard of care at world-leading congenital heart defect and structural heart centers. Learn more at