Title:
Cardiography Imaging Aids
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cardiography imaging aid in the form of a breast sling is disclosed that provides for the ergonomically repositioning a breast during diagnostic imaging. The breast sling is a breast support designed to lift and hold the breast away from the chest wall so that an imaging probes may be easily placed against the chest wall. The breast sling holds the breast away to permit the imaging taking operator to obtain cardiographic images without incurring ergonomic injury that would otherwise occur to the operator's hands and wrist as a consequence of the accumulating strain resulting from repetitive lifting and holding experienced by the operator during multiple patient exams.



Inventors:
Baker, Joan P. (Kirkland, WA, US)
Coffin, Carolyn T. (Lake Forest Park, WA, US)
Murphey, Susan L. (Lake Forest Park, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/680168
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
02/28/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C20/00
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Primary Examiner:
HAWTHORNE, OPHELIA ALTHEA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LOWE GRAHAM JONES, PLLC (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A cardiography imaging aid device comprising: a strap having a first member with a catch, a middle member having a hook and connected with the first member, the middle member further having a curvature configured to brace a breast, wherein the middle member contacts and lifts the breast when the hook is engaged with the first member's catch.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the catch is a Velcro® patch.

3. The device of claim 1 wherein the hook is a Velcro® loop

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the middle member comprises closed cell foam.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the breast is a left breast.

6. A cardiography imaging aid device comprising: a substantially pyramidal-shaped pillow having a curved region, wherein the pyramidal-shaped pillow is placed beneath the rib cage of a patient lying in a decubitis position on a platform supports the rib cage by wedge action conferred by the pyramidal shaped pillow between the patient's rib cage and the curved region to increase the viewing angle available to a medical imaging device.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein the pyramidal-shaped pillow comprises an internal region filled with non-compressible foam.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein the pyramidal-shaped pillow comprises an exterior surface coated with hardenable plastic.

9. The device of claim 6 wherein the pyramidal-shaped pillow comprises an internal region filled with plastic micro beads.

10. The device of claim 9 wherein the pyramidal-shaped pillow comprises an exterior surface coated with hardenable plastic.

11. A cardiography imaging aid device comprising: a pillow having user-adjusted contours, wherein the contours of the pillow are adjusted and engaged against the rib cage of a patient lying in a decubitis position to elevate the rib cage by wedge action conferred by the user-adjustable contours to increase the viewing angle available to a medical imaging device.

12. The device of claim 11 wherein the pillow is filled with Styrofoam microbeads.

13. The device of claim 13 wherein the pillow is enclosed within a fabric.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and herein incorporates by reference in its entirety U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/777,872 filed Mar. 1, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention pertains to the field of cardiac imaging devices to assist during diagnostic image taking processes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Cardiography measurements require breast repositioning to obtain diagnostic images from ultrasound and x-ray devices. Securing a repositioned breast during the image taking process is necessary to obtain sufficiently resolved and focused images to be diagnostically discernable. Patients are often required to hold their own breasts during the diagnostic imaging procedure, and many are unable or refuse to do so. Image taking technicians, for example, a majority of sonographers, often suffer career-ending muscular-skeletal disorders of the hands and wrists to reposition large, pendulous breasts of patients unwilling or unable to self-position their breasts. Accordingly, the quality of the diagnostic image is lessened as a consequence of operator injury.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A cardiography imaging aid or breast sling in the form of a stirrup device is used for the ergonomic securing and repositioning of a breast during a diagnostic imaging procedure. The breast sling is a breast support designed to lift and hold the breast away from the chest wall so that an imaging probes may be easily placed against the chest wall. The breast sling holds the breast away to permit the image taking operator to obtain cardiographic images without incurring injury that would otherwise occur to the operator's hands and wrist as a consequence of the accumulating strain resulting from repetitive lifting and holding experienced by the operator during multiple patient images. The breast sling ergonomic device reduces injuries caused by weight of the left or right breast on the operator's wrist and hand. The breast stirrup also avoids the patient being awkwardly required to self-position their breast during the imaging taking process.

The breast sling is designed to be used during x-ray, echocardiography, or other image acquiring exams to support the left or right breast of a patient to alleviate the weight of the breast being repositioned on the operator's hand and wrist. Suspending the breast by the breast sling or stirrup allows better access to the image-taking window, improves image quality, as the operator's hands are free to securely position the imaging probe against the chest wall.

Other cardiographic imaging aids include a cardiac wedge configured to support the patient in a prescribed position for improved line-of-site views available to an imaging transducer and to provide ergonomic assistance to medical personnel operating the imaging transducer. The cardiac wedge may include a preformed wedge having contours complimentary to receiving a patient on the left lateral decubitus position, or a contour-adjustable wedge adapted to receiving a patient either on the left or the right lateral decubitus positions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a cardiography breast sling with nearby ultrasound transducer probe;

FIG. 2 depicts another schematic view of the cardiography breast sling;

FIG. 3A depicts a side view of the cardiography breast sling;

FIG. 3B depicts a top view of the cardiography breast sling.

FIG. 4 depicts a schematic view of a preformed cardiac wedge showing patient positioning and a nearby ultrasound transducer;

FIG. 5 depicts a side view of the preformed cardiac wedge;

FIG. 6 depicts an end view of the preformed cardiac wedge;

FIG. 7 depicts a top view of the preformed cardiac wedge;

FIG. 8 depicts a schematic view of a contour adjustable cardiac wedge showing patient positioning and nearby ultrasound transducer;

FIG. 9 depicts a side view of the contour adjustable cardiac wedge; and

FIG. 10 depicts a top view of the contour adjustable cardiac wedge.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTICULAR EMBODIMENTS

The cardiography stirrup or breast sling device is recommended for use in echocardiography exams to remove the weight of a large female breast off of the wrist of the sonographer. Embodiments of the breast sling may be used on all patients who present with breast configurations that present ergonomic difficulties to the image taking technician or awkwardness to the patient for breast self-positioning, especially those having a bra cup size of D or larger.

The breast sling provides ergonomic relief to the image-acquiring technician and reduces inconvenience to the patient during the image acquisition process. For example, in Ultrasonography processes, the breast sling serves to lift away and securely hold the left breast so that the ultrasonographer's hands are free to more precisely position and hold an ultrasound transducer in the region of the chest best suited to secure a finely resolved diagnostic ultrasound image of the heart. The breast stirrup's or sling's breast repositioning and support of the patient's breast avoids the strains that otherwise would be imposed to the sonographer's hands and wrists, and avoids the patient having to awkwardly hold her breast during the exam.

Embodiments of the breast sling include a concave cut out to contour to the patient's chest. The sling will support any size of breast comfortably for during the diagnostic imaging process and may be made of low-cost, disposable materials for single use procedures. Alternatively, the breast sling may be made of more durable materials for multiple uses. The breast sling is easy to apply and cost effective to use.

Cardiac sonographers are particularly at risk for work related musculoskeletal disorders of the hands and wrists. This disposable device is designed to be used during echocardiography exams to support the left breast of patients with large, pendulous breasts. Suspending the breast allows better access to the acoustic window, improving image quality and alleviating the weight of the breast from the sonographer's hand and wrist.

The breast support or sling is made of soft fabric, for example volura, to provide patient comfort during exam procedures. The softer fabric is flame bonded or fused by a heat process to a stiffer fabric to allow the breast to be supported without the fabric rolling up under the breast. The fabric may be nylon that is heat sealed to 1/16 inch closed cell foam to provide a stiffer composition to the breast supporting middle section of the sling. The sling includes a concave cut out to contour to the patient's chest. The breast support sling will support any size of breast but is best suited to a cup size of “D” or larger. Alternate embodiments of the breast sling or breast support may be disposable to ensure no cross contamination between patients. Other embodiments are made from washable fabric for laundering between each patient use. The Velcro straps are strong enough to support heavy, pendulous breasts.

FIGS. 1-3B illustrate the breast sling design and use on patients during image-taking procedures.

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of a cardiography breast sling 10 wrapped around the neck of a patient with nearby ultrasound transducer probe 20. A middle section 12 of the breast sling 10 lifts the left breast of the patient towards the patient's sternum in the direction indicated by the arrow. An ultrasound transducer probe 20 is then placed for cardiac image taking in that region now made assessable for transducer 20 placement by the lifted and supported left breast.

FIG. 2 depicts another schematic view of the cardiography breast sling 10 wrapped around the neck of the patient. A portion of the middle section 12 is visible.

FIG. 3A is a side view of the cardiography breast sling 10. The middle section 12 is made of a volura fabric and may be white in color and approximately 1/16 inch thick. A Velcro® loop 14, upwarding facing, is connected with one end of the middle section 12. The Velcro® loop may be affixed to a stretchable, nylon strap. A Velcro hook 18 facing downward is connected at the other end of the middle section 12.

FIG. 3B is a top view of the cardiography breast sling 10. The middle section 12 includes one side having a curvature cutout 12D. The Velcro loop 14 is attached to one end of the middle section 12 by a stitch 16. The stitch 16 may be single or multiply stitched. The Velcro® hook 18 is shown affixed to the other end opposite the stitch 16. Other embodiments of the breast sling 10 may have dimensions approximating those illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B.

Instructions for Methods to Use the Breast Support for Echocardiography:

1. Place the concave side of the support against the chest wall of the patient and underneath the breast.

2. Wrap the strap of the support around the patient's neck and secure the strap with the Velcro® tabs.

3. Adjust the strap as appropriate to the anatomy of the patient to ensure that the breast is elevated off of the sonographer's scanning arm.

Other devices used separately or in conjunction with the breast sling includes a patient support cushion or cardiac wedge 30 having a curved region illustrated in FIG. 4 below, that is substantially preformed with substantially fixed contours, and a re-formable cardiac wedge 80 illustrated in FIG. 8 below, that is flexibly adjustable to form into a multiple of custom shapes having adjustable contours. Both the fixed contoured cardiac wedge 30 and the adjustable contoured cardiac wedge 80 comfortably place the patient in exam specific positions. These specified positions permit the acquisition of images from specified observation angles as well as to comfortably maintain the patient in exam specific positions during treatment or non-imaging exam procedures. FIGS. 4 and 8 illustrate the pre-formed and adjustable cardiac wedges 30 and 80 in their use on patients during image-taking procedures.

The fixed contoured cardiac wedge 30 and the adjustable contoured cardiac wedge 80 assists the patient in maintaining the decubitus position as necessary for various imaging and diagnostic procedures. By providing support for the patient while in the decubitus position, the patient's abdominal and chest wall muscles are able to relax, reducing fatigue and strain for the patient. Ribs then spread apart or expand more easily to provide a greater “between the ribs” imaging window to the heart. Relaxation of the abdominal and chest musculature also allows easier intercostal access for imaging devices such as ultrasound transducers, and reduces the strain associated with the force engaged against the sonographer's hand. Furthermore, the support cushions or wedges 30 and 80 elevates the dependent portion of the chest wall, while in the decubitus position, providing improved acoustic access for imaging, such as viewing the apex of the heart with an ultrasound transducer during echocardiography. The elevation of the dependent portion of the lateral chest wall, while in the decubitus position, provides ergonomic benefit to the imaging operator, eliminating the need to encumber their hand that holds the ultrasound transducer between the patient's chest and the examination table. This ergonomic benefit reduces the risk for work-related injury to the hand and wrist for the sonographer, and provides improved image accuracy and comfort for the patient.

FIG. 4 depicts a schematic view of the preformed cardiac wedge 30 showing patient positioning and a nearby ultrasound transducer 20. The preformed cardiac wedge 30 engages against the left lateral decubitus position of the patient. The preformed cardiac wedge 30 includes a substantially pyramidal-like base 34 having an arching slope 36 that terminates in a substantially horizontal ledge 40 that can support the head of the patient or the placement of a supporting pillow. The arching slope 36 has a concave contour that may vary with the curvilinear slope between the pyramidal-like base 34 and ledge 40. The interior of preformed cardiac wedge 30 may be made from non-compressible foams coated with hardenable plastics to provide stability to the surfaces of the formed contours, yet provide some give to the patient to reduce discomfort during patient positioning. A removable section 44 provides an access portal to receive the transducer 20 to transit through for placement against the side of the chest cavity. More sections similar to the removable section 44 may be incorporated into the alternate embodiments of the preformed cardiac wedge 30. As illustrated the preformed cardiac wedge 30 provides multiple contours to adapt to a variety of patient anatomical shapes that is sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the upper chest cavity yet provide some give or flexibility by having its interior filed with non-compressible foam having a closed cellular structure, the foam surface being multiply coated with a hardenable liquid vinyl plastic.

The preformed shape of the cardiac wedge 30 allows the patient while in the left lateral decubitus position, is elevated approximately 5″ in an alternate embodiment on the wedge 30. The firm density of the curvilinear rise 36 behind the patient provides support, allowing the abdominal and chest muscles to relax, thereby providing easier imaging access for positioning the transducer between the patient's ribs. The tapering 7″ wide 45-degree angled portion at the front of the device affords access for the sonographer's hand and the handle of the transducer, without conflicting with the exam table beneath the device. The pre-formed cardiac wedge 30 presents multiple sloping surfaces to provide wedging action that aids in the elevation of the adjacent ribs to provide a better viewing angle to an imaging device and ergonomically assist an operator in acquiring an image of a region-of-interest (ROI). The removable section 44 may be approximately 8″×12″ to create a “bridge” for accessing the dependent portion of the chest, which would otherwise be inaccessible for imaging.

FIG. 5 depicts a side view of the pyramidal base section 34 of the preformed cardiac wedge 30 that provides support for the patient in the side-lying position. As illustrated the side view of the pyramidal base section 34 shows the elevated back section having a trapezoidal-like shape with two parallel sides of approximately 6″ and 8″, with an approximate 7″ center. The base of the trapezoidal like back section is approximately 36″, a 2″ ridge that tapers gradually to the 6″ side.

FIG. 6 depicts an end view of the preformed cardiac wedge 30. As illustrated the preformed cardiac wedge 30 shows the curvilinear slope 36 that provides support for the patient in the side-lying position, as well as the angled front 34 of the wedge 30, unique in it's capacity to allow the sonographer to place the transducer on the dependent portion of the patient's chest without being obstructed by the exam table and causing increased strain to the sonographer's hand. The headrest or pillow ledge 40 is shown. Dimensions as illustrate represent an illustrative range for the pyramidal-like base 34, arching slope 36, and ledge 40. Angular dimensions may be substantially varied for the pyramidal-like base 34 depending on the other dimensions illustrated to provide alternate contour ranges for the preformed cardiac wedge 30. Other depicted dimensions for the arching slope 36 and ledge 40 may be substantially varied to provide additional alternate contour ranges for the preformed cardiac wedge 30.

FIG. 7 depicts a top and partial perspective view of the performed cardiac wedge 30. As illustrated the preformed cardiac wedge 30 shows the multiple contours afforded by the arching slope 36 as it merges into the pyramidal-like base 34. The multiple contours of the arching slope 36 that provide both ergonomic benefit and improved diagnostic accuracy through improved access to pertinent anatomy. Between the pyramidal like base 34 and concave arching slope 36 is a support ridge 38. Also illustrated is the removable section 44 having an approximate 8″×12″ dimension for those patients who need to be imaged by placing the transducer 20 on the part of the chest that would otherwise be in contact with the exam table or bed. The insertion of the preformed cardiac wedge 40 between the exam table or other patient platform and the patient's chest improves the line-of-site view available to an imaging transducer 20, allowing image acquisition to this otherwise inaccessible region. Other depicted dimensions for the arching slope 36, the support ridge 38 the ledge 40, and the removable section 44 may be substantially varied to provide alternate contour ranges for the preformed cardiac wedge 30 and alternate access window ports for transducer placement.

FIG. 8 depicts a schematic view of the re-formable or adjustable cardiac wedge 80 engaged against a patient. The internal region of the pre-formed cardiac wedge 80 may comprise styrene and/or Styrofoam derived microbeads that may be moved internally to create supporting contours to be complementary to those patients have anatomies not readily adaptable to the preformed and fixed contoured cardiac wedge 40. An imaging technician or medical personnel user may utilize the flexible properties of the adjustable cardiac wedge 80 to create user-selected contours on the wedge 80 to accommodate specific positions. This view of the adjustable contour cardiac wedge 80 shows the patient in a side-lying position with the dependent portion of their chest elevated on the wedge 80. This elevation, along with the malleable nature of the wedge 80, allows improved access with the ultrasound transducer to the dependent portion of the chest for imaging. The re-formable or adjustable cardiac wedge 80 may be engaged against the patient on the left or the right lateral decubitus position.

FIG. 9 depicts a side view of the adjustable contour cardiac wedge 80. As illustrated the side view of the portable cardiac wedge depicts the malleable filling material and flexible cover material that allows the device to be molded into a variety of forms as needed. A particular embodiment includes a tube-like structure having a diameter of approximately 10″ and a length of approximately 36″. Other diameter and length dimensions are possible for alternate embodiments of the adjustable cardiac wedge 80.

FIG. 10 depicts a top view of the adjustable contour cardiac wedge 80. As illustrated this top view of the adjustable contour cardiac wedge 80 may accommodate an over-sleeve made of disposable cloth, plastic or other fabric material that may be used in conjunction with the wedge 80 to accommodate the approximate 10″ by 36″ dimension. The over sleeve includes a tubular covering, of similar size, in the disposable material. Other dimensions of the over-sleeve are possible to accommodate different dimensions of the adjustable cardiac wedge 80.

While the particular embodiments of the invention has been illustrated and described, as noted above, many changes can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the breast sling may be reconfigured to breast repositioning of obese males or males who otherwise present breast configurations that present ergonomic difficulties to the image taking technician or awkwardness to the patient for breast self-positioning. The breast sling may also be configured for the ergonomic immobilization of other organs and body regions to better obtain an image of clinical interest, or for uses by medical personnel other than image acquisition, for example, examining the skin near the chest or abdominal wall. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is not limited by the disclosure of the particular embodiments.