WARF: P160185US02

Point-of-Care Obstetrical Imaging for Minimally or Untrained Birth Attendants


Helen Feltovich, Timothy Hall

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a specialized ultrasound device tailored for obstetrical monitoring. A simplified, ergonomic transducer is adapted for intuitive sweeping motions across the pregnant patient’s abdomen.

Built-in algorithms provide automated analysis of various obstetrical conditions, without requiring the operator to interpret standard ultrasound images or make a diagnosis. The device can recognize and alert the operator to potential complications.
OVERVIEWAdvance warning of some of the main causes of maternal and/or neonatal problems can prevent death and long term health complications. These causes include bleeding (e.g., from placenta previa over the cervix), preterm birth and bleeding or infection from obstructed labor (e.g., from fetal malpresentation or undiagnosed twins). Basic assessment – including gestational age, number and presentation of fetuses and placental location – improves outcomes. For example, women identified at risk of preterm birth can be transported to a skilled center for care and evaluation.
THE INVENTIONUW–Madison researchers with expertise in ultrasound technology and maternal-fetal health have designed a simplified, low cost ultrasound device to help minimally or untrained care providers recognize complications in pregnant women and make appropriate referrals. The operator does not need to interpret technical images.

The device is manually swept across the patient’s abdomen; automated algorithms extract critical structural information from these manual sweeps and convert the data into a 3-D model. Sequential estimation techniques are used to assess fetal gestational age, growth, presentation and number, as well as placental location.

The system features three main improvements:
  1. A specialized transducer fits comfortably in the hand, unlike conventional probes.
  2. The easy-to-understand interface guides the operator to move the probe across the patient’s abdomen; sonographic training is not required.
  3. If the device detects potential complications (e.g., if the fetus is malpresented, or the placenta is over the cervix) an alarm/flash will signal that the patient should be evaluated by a trained care provider.
  • Global maternal health
  • Family practice clinics
  • Hospital obstetric triage
  • Emergency medicine
  • Device is comparatively low cost, durable and intuitive to use.
  • Provides fast, simple diagnostic scans
  • No advanced training required
STAGE OF DEVELOPMENTThe inventors have created a preliminary prototype.

The development of this technology was supported by WARF Accelerator. WARF Accelerator selects WARF's most commercially promising technologies and provides expert assistance and funding to enable achievement of commercially significant milestones. WARF believes that these technologies are especially attractive opportunities for licensing.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jeanine Burmania at or 608-960-9846.
The WARF Advantage

Since its founding in 1925 as the patenting and licensing organization for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF has been working with business and industry to transform university research into products that benefit society. WARF intellectual property managers and licensing staff members are leaders in the field of university-based technology transfer. They are familiar with the intricacies of patenting, have worked with researchers in relevant disciplines, understand industries and markets, and have negotiated innovative licensing strategies to meet the individual needs of business clients.