citybiz+ Rivanna Gets $2.9M NIH Grant to Develop Opioid-free Way to Treat Hip Fractures

Charlottesville, Va.-based Rivanna said it has received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant is for further development of Accuro 3S, an image-guided tool to administer regional anesthesia for hip fractures, for use without opioids. The funding is part of the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative and is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Founded in 2010 by Will Mauldin and Kevin Owen, two graduate students at the University of Virginia, Rivanna focuses on development of ultrasound-guided medical technologies in a bid to address high failure rates with epidural and spinal anesthesia placement. Mauldin earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, while Owen brought experience of developing industrial products.

It All Started in Attic

The duo, working out of Owen’s home attic, assembled the first circuit boards in a toaster oven and created the first prototype ultrasound transducer — a device that produces sound waves that bounce off body tissues and make echoes — using a trailer hitch and hot glue.

The prototype brought Rivanna its first external funding — from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, in collaboration with Dr. John Hossack’s laboratory at the University of Virginia. Since then, Rivanna has attracted up to $90 million, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), National Science Foundation and Center for Innovative Technology.

Accuro Platform

Mauldin said there is a pressing need to expand opioid-sparing ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia for hip fracture pain, and enhance access to safer medical procedures and improving patient outcomes. Each year, doctors perform more than one million PENG — or pericapsular nerve group blocks — that require parenteral opioids, increasing adverse events and risking recurrent opioid use. Over 330,000 Americans face hospitalization each year due to hip fractures, and require immediate pain management and surgery.

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“Our technology is well-positioned to bridge a crucial gap in healthcare delivery and expand the range of Accuro 3S clinical applications, unlocking a significant U.S. market opportunity estimated at $295 million annually,” added Mauldin.

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Accuro 3S is considered a technological advancement, helping healthcare providers overcome UGRA barriers in treating hip fractures and reducing training requirements. It also has other features including AI-based reconstructions of hip anatomy, real-time needle guidance with automated identification of essential anatomical landmarks, and a novel ultrasound probe.

Rivanna’s innovation is centered on the Accuro platform, from which it has developed several devices, including Accuro 3S. Its other products include Accuro Neuraxial Guidance, an ultrasound-based imaging solution for epidural and spinal anesthesia; and Accuro XV, which integrates ultrasound-based bone and 3D soft-tissue imaging technology with AI-enabled software. Accuro XV received BARDA funding.