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The Attentiv Catheter for Safer IVs

The Attentiv Catheter is a paradigm shifting technology for how healthcare professionals monitor IV injections sites and prevent IV delivery complications.

  • High level overview of the Attentiv Catheter and monitoring solution for IV infiltration.

  • Our story on how we came to find IV infiltration as an urgent problem in neonatal care.

    Our story on how we came to find IV infiltration as an urgent problem in neonatal care.

  • Statistics and explanation of IV infiltration as a problem in healthcare, especially with neonates.

  • Problem validation collected over 10 months through in-depth conversation and surveys.

  • Economic prototyping of biological models to establish impedance-based discrimination.

  • Economic prototyping of substitute phantom models to establish impedance-based discrimination.

What it does

The Attentiv Catheter samples bioelectric properties at the catheter tip to monitor the site of IV delivery. Abnormal signals indicate IV infiltration, a common complication where IV fluid leaks into surrounding tissue, causing tissue damage if untreated.

Your inspiration

As a part of an entrepreneurship-based capstone collaboration at UBC, our team was tasked to approach the world around us to find a problem worth solving. Neonatal nurses we spoke with named IV infiltration, a complication in IV delivery where medical fluids leak into surrounding tissues, as a significant issue they face. This can be devastating for vulnerable populations like premature babies, the elderly, and chemotherapy patients. From interviewing over 70 clinicians, the vast majority state that infiltration is an issue that needs to be solved with over half believing that the current methods of detecting infiltration are not effective.

How it works

The Attentiv catheter and monitoring system, provides accurate and immediate detection of catheter dislodgement, the leading cause of IV infiltration. The technology is designed to achieve blood-tissue differentiation to localize the position of the catheter as either inside the vein (normal) or outside (infiltration) to alert caretakers and/or provide automatic response. The three components include: 1. Attentiv Catheter: With an embedded miniaturized sensor at its tip, the catheter is able to measure bioelectrical properties. 2. Transmitter Module: The transmitter receives the biosignals directly from the catheter via a short wire and mounts directly to the IV tubing. The signals are broadcasted out wirelessly. 3. Monitor Module: The monitor serves as the UI for the nurses to check in on their patient’s status. The onboard algorithm uses the moving average of the bioimpedance signal to look for spikes or irregularities that may indicate an infiltration.

Design process

We interviewed neonatal nurses, researchers, and hospital managers to learn their needs, discovering that they prefer a solution that requires minimal changes to their workflow. We found a preference on a catheter replacement for minimal workflow impact. In literature, we researched physiological indications for IV infiltration to design the technical sensing component. Further research into biomedical development, regulations, and biocompatibility refined our needs assessment for concept generation. Our research pointed towards temperature, strain, hardness, pH, and impedance as possible sensing modes. Due to the small size of the catheter lumen, we believed that an impedance sensor is the most feasible. We made multiple sensorized catheter prototypes. Starting with wire probe electrodes tested on store-bought pork meat and blood, we found success in our blood-tissue discrimination machine learning models. We then moved to phantom tissue models made from gelatin and saline water, which guaranteed repeatable performance in a simulated environment. Our time-series algorithm was able to identify dynamic infiltration events. We also had the opportunity to do testing on pig cadavers, which allowed us to verify our prototype on real biological tissues.

How it is different

Existing devices that aim to address the issue of IV infiltration use non-direct methods for detection. These devices are generally in patch form which requires additional dressings to secure and extra wiring, and is not ideal for patients with fragile skin. Our device is situated in-vivo and monitors the root cause of infiltration, allowing for quicker responses. Direct sensing allows us to expand into other types of catheters like central lines, where patch sensors cannot detect. Fewer dressings and reduction in protocol changes for nurses has the potential to lead to easier adoption and less costly retraining, which are both significant concerns in healthcare. Another advantage of our solution is sensor reuse. With our transmitter module, we can separate our primary sensor and signal processing unit from the disposable element.

Future plans

Our team has received significant positive feedback from advisors and clinicians. We explored potential lean development options through partaking in our university’s lean launchpad start-up program. Our current objective is to publish a design paper on our findings from our experiments and prototypes. With the ongoing crisis and uncertainty, our team is looking to find potential partners to help develop the project technically and assist in clinical validation. We want the project to continue to develop towards a clinically-ready prototype which has the maximum benefit for our stakeholders -- the patients, clinicians, and hospitals.


2019 | Winner | RBC Get Seeded 2020 |2nd Place | Innovation OnBoard 2020 | Winner | UBC New Venture Design Program Faculty Award 2020 | Winner | UBC New Venture Design Program Industry Award 2020 | Winner | Microsoft Canada Discover AI Challenge: Smarter and Sustainable Economies: Healthcare Stream

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