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Science / Medicine : 'Smart Needle' Saves Time

April 08, 1991|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A high-tech needle with a tiny ultrasound transmitter mounted at the tip allows doctors to hear blood whooshing through arteries and veins inside the body, helping them guide the needle directly into a patient's blood vessel.

According to Dr. Paul Yock, assistant professor of medicine at UC San Francisco and inventor of the device, physicians using the instrument can follow the pulsing sound of the blood to the arteries. The "smart needle" eliminates a critical loss of time in emergencies and prevents the discomfort of the repeated jabs often required in the conventional trial-and-error method of locating an artery for transfusions or for administration of intravenous fluids.

The device has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and is now being released for use in clinical trials at 30 medical centers around the country.

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