Swoop Portable MRI: Interview with David Scott, President and CEO of Hyperfine


Hyperfine, a company based in St Guilford, Connecticut, created Swoop, a portable MRI scanner. The device received FDA approval as the first bedside MRI scanner in 2020, and a recent study has shown that it can help to accurately spot hemorrhagic stroke, detecting 85 of 88 blood-negative cases (96.6% specificity).

Rapid detection is important for successful treatment of strokes, and helps ensure the best outcomes for patients. The device can be wheeled up to a patient’s bed and powered through a standard wall outlet. This is beneficial for critically ill patients, who may be risky to move. Clinicians can acquire and view images from the scanner through a wireless tablet.

MRI scanners typically require specialized facilities and entry procedures to avoid any risk of injury or mishap because of the extremely powerful magnets involved. Swoop is portable and uses low-field magnets that are safe around patients and nearby equipment.

Here’s a quick video preview of the device:

Medgadget had the opportunity to speak with David Scott, President and CEO of Hyperfine, about the technology.    

Conn Hastings, Medgadget: What inspired Hyperfine to develop this portable MRI technology?

David Scott, Hyperfine: Nearly 90% of the world does not have access to MRI systems. Hyperfine created Swoop™, the world’s first FDA-cleared bedside MRI system, with the goal to provide affordable and accessible MR imaging in an effort to democratize and revolutionize healthcare for people around the world. Because of Swoop’s mobility and safety, patients can be imaged at the point of care—emergency department, intensive care units and operating rooms, global health / remote clinics and stroke care—performed at bedside powered by a standard wall outlet. Swoop has the potential to expand adoption globally, reaching more patients and bringing MR imaging to mainstream use.

Medgadget: Please give us an overview of Swoop, and its features.

David Scott: Hyperfine’s portable Swoop™ system is designed to allow physicians to rapidly diagnose acute brain injuries and make life-saving decisions. In less than two minutes, the technology is ready to start scanning at the patient’s bedside regardless of locale and can begin presenting critical images, powered by a standard wall outlet at the patient’s bedside, whether in the ICU, ER, or other care setting. The system’s overall design and low-field magnet were built for mobility within crowded healthcare environments and use within high-metal content areas like ICUs – without the risks of traditional MRI. As a result, loved ones and caregivers alike can remain bedside with the patient during imaging.

Medgadget: How is Swoop currently used? How has it been received by patients and clinicians?

David Scott: Swoop is FDA-cleared for MR imaging of the brain and head in patients of all ages. Clinicians and patients experience an overall reduced wait time for examination through Swoop’s imaging. While traditional MRI can have wait times as long as several days or weeks, patients can be imaged within minutes at the point of care, with initial results available in as little as 30 seconds, potentially reducing patient stays and delays in diagnosis. Swoop’s quick results are imperative for patients suffering from brain injury and enable clinicians to make life-saving decisions quickly. Clinicians are able to operate Swoop through an easy-to-use wireless tablet, and user training is accomplished within an afternoon – an accelerated learning curve compared to conventional imaging without the need for specialized trained technologists.

Medgadget: How is hemorrhagic stroke currently diagnosed? How does Swoop help to improve this process?

David Scott: CT scans are often used as a first response for brain imaging due to their faster diagnostic time and lower cost compared to traditional MRIs. However, they provide less detailed information about soft tissues than MRIs, and an MRI may still be required following a CT scan in some cases if additional information is needed. Swoop can exclude the presence of intracerebral hemorrhage with 97% specificity (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-25441-6).

The high cost of traditional MR imaging limits accessibility. Typical prices for a single, state-of-the-art, high-powered MRI machine that can deliver detailed results range from $1 million to $3 million exclusive of very complex construction costs. The Swoop system is 20 times cheaper, consumes 35 times less power, and is 10 times lighter than current conventional MRI systems. Because Swoop is portable, patients with critical conditions can also avoid transport outside the ICU for imaging – saving time as well as resources and reducing the risk of adverse events during transport.

Medgadget: Please give us an overview of the recent trial showing the utility of Swoop in detecting hemorrhagic stroke.

David Scott: Hyperfine recently announced results of a study published in Nature Communication. The study, conducted at Yale New Haven Hospital, demonstrated Swoop’s high accuracy in detecting hemorrhagic stroke. In the study, critically ill patients were imaged using conventional neuroimaging, either non-contrast CT or conventional MRI, and the Swoop portable MRI system. A total of 144 Swoop examinations were evaluated. Blood-negative cases were correctly identified in 85 of 88 cases (96.6% specificity), and the study found that Swoop correctly detected intracerebral hemorrhage in 45 of 56 cases (80.4% sensitivity). Exams collected during the second half of scanner software versions were correctly classified in 76 of 84 cases (90.5% overall accuracy) with intracerebral hemorrhage identified in 29 of 34 cases (85.3% sensitivity). Of note, the improvement in sensitivity over the course of the study is owed to the continued system (hardware and more frequent software updates – part of the Hyperfine subscription plan). A link to the publication, “Portable, bedside, low-field magnetic resonance imaging for evaluation of intracerebral hemorrhage,” can be found here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-25441-6.

Link: Hyperfine homepage…

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