Changing the Game in Advanced Wound Care

Kent Imaging is forging an exciting new path in the world of medical technology. As a market leader in the design and development of light-based tissue assessment diagnostic devices, Kent is ushering in a different way of visualizing tissue health. The company’s flagship product is SnapshotNIR, a noninvasive, handheld imaging tool that uses near-infrared light to measure microvascular tissue oxygen saturation, which is a key indicator of tissue health.

A game-changer for medical practitioners specializing in advanced wound care, reconstructive surgery and limb preservation, SnapshotNIR helps clinicians to identify the viability of a patient’s tissue, track healing and ultimately improve health outcomes.

Kent’s roots reach back to the early 2000s. Around that time, scientists at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) had created a prototype device to demonstrate how near-infrared (NIR) light can be used effectively to assess the concentration of oxygen in human tissue. When Calgary-based entrepreneur Don Chapman visited the NRC and learned of this prototype and the promising concept behind it, he was immediately intrigued.

Tissue oxygenation is one of the most important factors in wound healing, but it cannot be measured by the naked eye. So, when the NRC team showed Chapman how multiple wavelengths of NIR light could reflect and measure the amount of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in a patient’s microvasculature, he knew the technology could ultimately improve peoples’ lives.

But first, it had to be made accessible.

Armed with a long history of developing high-tech products, Chapman looked at the large, costly device the NRC team had built for demo purposes and wondered if, instead, he could incorporate the NIR technology into a more compact, less expensive imaging unit that could be used in a variety of medical settings. It was, he felt, certainly worth a try.

After securing the rights to the NRC’s laboratory model science, Chapman went about assembling a team of experts from a variety of fields—including electronics, software and optics—to work on developing a commercially viable NIR imaging unit. And with that, Kent Imaging was born.

It takes a great deal of time, determination and conviction to envision, test and ultimately realize the creation of an entirely new diagnostic modality. Backed initially by funding from private investors, Kent moved through several iterations of the NIR imaging device and, in 2012, the company brought its first FDAapproved version to market.

Stand-based and rather cumbersome to use, Kent’s initial commercial product took longer to capture tissue images than the team would have liked. Nevertheless, they built 10 models and sold them all to users in Japan, Europe and the United States. As interest in the product grew, and advancements in NIR technology emerged, Kent hired visionary tech entrepreneur Pierre Lemire to take the reins as CEO and lead the organization into its next phase of growth. Under Lemire’s guidance, Kent’s team continued to hone, improve and iterate— keeping Chapman’s original vision of an easily portable NIR tool as its objective. In 2017, Kent received FDA clearance and Health Canada certification for SnapshotNIR: handheld, battery-powered, and equipped with near-instantaneous image capture and serial wound tracking at all points of care.

Today, there are more than 200 SnapshotNIR units in clinical use. Medical practitioners around the world—in North America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean—are incorporating the device into their daily practice workflow.

The latest iteration, version 3.0, features an advanced algorithm that intensifies the light reflectance signal to aid in overcoming the skin’s melanin layer barrier, which means SnapshotNIR can be used for tissue viability assessment in almost all skin tones.

Version 3.0 also includes advancements in wound measurement functions, as well as a customizable reporting feature that supports secure WiFi transfer, so that clinicians can share SnapshotNIR images safely and seamlessly while consulting with colleagues about a patient’s state.

These advancements are all part of a larger vision, one in which the data from SnapshotNIR is routinely assimilated into a patient’s digital medical record, so that it becomes an integrated piece of the overall view of a patient’s state and how it’s trending.

Buoyed by a recent injection of funds from international firm TVM Life Sciences, Kent continues to work toward this vision, expanding all aspects of the business to support overall growth, product advancement, and integration with complementary products in the medical industry.

“We’re just on the cusp,” says CEO Pierre Lemire. “We’re at the tip of the iceberg of what Kent is going to be able to develop and bring to market over the next five to 10 years—tools and technology that are going to significantly improve the way physicians practice, reduce complications and improve patient outcomes.”


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