Portland Business Journal

January 17, 2014
By Elizabeth Hayes

Beaverton-based Sonivate Medical Inc., which makes a finger-mounted ultrasound probe for hands-free imaging, is partnering with Fukuda Denshi USA to distribute the device and tap into a $1.4 billion global market.

The Sonivate SonicEye allows clinicians to to use one finger to image, leaving both hands free to simultaneously perform procedures, such as taking biopsies, inserting catheters and other needle-guided work, said CEO David Starr.

The FDA-approved device gives clinicians an advantage over a traditional, pinch-gripped probe, which can wobble in any direction, Starr said.

“It can be worn on the finger like a ring and has ergonomic advantages,” Starr said. “It gives greater precision, stability and control and there are fewer people needed.”

The nonexclusive agreement allows for global distribution of SonicEye with compatible Fukuda Denshi ultrasound systems.

Starr said Sonivate has received $5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Defense. And last spring, Sonivate won the launch-stage competition in the fifth annual Willamette Angel Conference, taking home $255,000.

Starr said hundreds of clinicians around the world have evaluated the finger-probe technology, which is patent protected.

Millions of needle-guided procedures are done each year and ultrasound imaging is both safe and portable, as well as a growing modality, Starr said.

“One of the biggest limitations has been how easy the probes are to use,” he said.

One future application may be to use the probes in open heart surgery, he said.
Elizabeth Hayes covers health care for the Business Journal.