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Title:
VENOUS ELECTRICAL STIMULATION APPARATUS AND METHODS AND USES THEREOF
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/126467
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An electrical venous stimulation apparatus comprising a powered signal generator, the signal generator configured to generate a specified electrical output signal. The apparatus also includes a plurality of electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured, to be placed in electrical communication with a subject, The electrical output signal sent to the subject, includes an output voltage, electrical current, and waveform that changes with time in a preprogrammed repeating cycle. The output voltage, electrical current, and waveform are configured to elicit a physiological response that stimulates a plurality of peripheral nerves in the subject, activates a venous muscle pump mechanism in one or more limbs of the subject, and non-invasively alter the physiology of target vein(s), wherein the target vein(s) is caused to distend under the surface of the subject's skirt.

Inventors:
PHILLIPS DAVID BRUCE (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2016/015009
Publication Date:
August 11, 2016
Filing Date:
January 27, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
RISING TIDE FOUNDATION (CH)
PHILLIPS DAVID BRUCE (US)
International Classes:
A61N1/08; A61N1/36; A61N1/32
Foreign References:
US20050234525A12005-10-20
US20040267333A12004-12-30
US4846185A1989-07-11
US5562718A1996-10-08
US20110082517A12011-04-07
US8175713B12012-05-08
US5725563A1998-03-10
US4846181A1989-07-11
US20060253165A12006-11-09
US20050149124A12005-07-07
US20110224753A12011-09-15
US8165685B12012-04-24
Other References:
BRODERICK, BJ ET AL.: "A pilot evaluation of a neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) based methodology for the prevention of venous stasis during bed rest.", MEDICAL ENGINEERING & PHYSICS, vol. 32, no. 4, May 2010 (2010-05-01), XP026987403
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEES, Sarah, P. (600 Celebrate Life ParkwayNewnan, GA, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. An. electrical venous stiBiulatkm apparatus, for causing target v ins in a subject to distend iron! under the surface of the subject's skin wi hout the aid of compression, the apparatus comprising::

a power supply;

a signal generator powered by the power supply, the signal generator confi ured jo generate specified electrical output signal;

at least two electrodes in electrical communication with the si nal generator and configured to be placed in electrical eomnumication wi h the subject aad generated by the s igtial eenca f to the at least two electrodes, each of the at least two generator,

wherein the electrical output signal includes an output voltage,. electrical ' current, and a waveform thai changes with time in a preprogrammed repeating cycle, the ontpat voltage, electrical current, and waveform being configured to elicit a physiological response that stimulates a plurality of peripheral nerves in the subject without the aid of eo.tnpression. activates a venous muscle pump mechanism in one or more limbs of the subject without the aid of compression, and non-uivasively alters the physiology of a target vein withoat the aid of compression, wherein the target vein is caused to distend- under the surface of the subject's skin.

2. Use electrical venous stimulation apparatus of 'claim !., further comprising at least two containers, wherein the first of the at least two electrodes is physically connected to a first of the sit least two containers, and the second of the at least two electrodes is physically connected to a second of the at least two c ntaine s.

3. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 2, wherein each of the tit least two containers includes one or more recessed regions sized and arranged to receive fingers of the subject therein, and configured to hold a liquid electrolyte solution.

4. The electrical 'VeatHis su mation apparatus of 'claim 3, wherein each of the Hi least two containers further comprises the liquid electrolyte solution electrically connected to a respective one ofthe at less! two electrodes to deliver the electrical output signal to the subject through the liquid electrolyte solution.

5. The electtical v noms stimulation apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the at least two electro es com rises a pair of conductive electrode pads with an adhesive layer disposed on one side thereof.

6. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 5, wherein one electrode pad of the pair of electrode pads, is attached to a palmar surface of one hand of the subject, and the other electrode pad of me ai least one pair of electrode pads is attached to an ana of the subject.

7. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim .6, wherein a positive "output signal is supplied to the electrode pad attached to the- palmar surface of the one hand of the subject, and a negative output signal is supplied to the electrode pad attached to the arm of the subject.

8. The electrical venous stimulatio apparatus of claim 1 < further comprising a variable control configured to a just a magnitude of the output: voltage.

9. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 8, wherein the magnitude of the output voltage is variable from about 0 to about 40 volts.

10. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1, wherein the subject is a human. t 1. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1, wherein the signal generator further comprises: a power switch;

as oscillator ine hiding m integrated circuit;

a variable control configured to djust a magnitude of the output voltage ia response to an inpu a ad

output circuitry comprising:

a first stage including at least two operational am lifiers and a capacitor; and

a second, stage including a center tap ininsfonaer.

52. A method of stimulating peripheral target veins in a subject, without the aid of compression, io cause the veins to distend from under a surface of the subject's skin to facilitate venipuncture, the method comprising:

generating an adjustable electrical output signal with an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, the signal including art adjustable output voltage, an adjustable current, and an. adjustable output voltage waveform configured to elicit a physiological venous response in the subject that causes the target vein ia the subject to distend, from wider the surface of the subject's skin without the aid of compression, the electrical stimulation apparatus comprising:

(i) a powered signal generator configured to generate the adjustable electrical output Signal an

(«} at least two electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured to be placed in electrical eontnuithcatioti with the subject;

electrically connecting the at least two electrodes to the subject; and trans ittmg the output signal to ifee subject via the at least two electrodes to elicit the physiological venous response in the subject that causes the target vein in ate subject to distend from under the surface of the subject's skin without the aid of compression.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising:

monitoring, by an electrical feedback system in the signal generator, the biological electrical feedback from the subject in the form of the subject's biological electrical resistance and capacitance; comparin , using a micjxiproeessor integrated, in. the signal generator, the electrical feedback from ihe .subject with the "traasoiitted output signal; and

automatically adjusting subsequent output signals to be sent to the subject based on the conrtparison between ihe transmitted output: signal and She electrical feedback.

1.4. The method of claim 12, wherein the subject, is a human,

3:5. A method of suppressstg pain signals ai a Venous needle stick site of a. subject, the method comprising:

generating an adjustable electrical output signal with an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, ihe signal, including ao adjustable output voltage, an .adjustable current, and an adjustable output voltage waveform configured to elicit s physiological venous response in. the subject that causes a target vein in the subject So distend from under a surface of the subject 's skia without the aid of compression, the electrical stimulation apparatus comprising;

(i) a powered sign l generator configured to generate She adjustable electrical output signal, and

(ii) at least two electrodes in electrical eommiimcatkm' ith the sigaai generator and configured to be placed in electrical communication with the subject; electrically connecting the at least two electrodes to the subject; and

transmit ing the outpu signal to the subject via the at least two electrodes to stimulate peripheral nerves of the subject and activate a venous pump mechanism in. at least one limb of the subject to thereby suppress pain signals at the venous needle stick site of ihe patient. i 6, The method of claim Ϊ5, wherein the subject is a human, 7. A method of accessing a vein o f a person, the method comprising:

receiving a portion of a first !nnh i the person into a first container that is physically connected to a first electrode; receiving portion of a second iirnb of the persoa into a second container that is physically connected to a secon electrode;

supplying a liquid electrolytic solution into the first and second containers, wherein (i) the liqaid electrolytic solution of the first container is is contact with the portion of the first limb and is electrically connected to the first electrode, and (if) the liquid electrolytic solution of ie second container is in contact with the portion of the second Krah and is electrically connected t the second electrode;

electrically stimulating the portions of the first and second Sifjibs with at least one electrical signal generated by an electrical signal generator, the electrical signal provided to the liquid electrolytic solution of each of the first and second con tainers by the respective electrodes i contact with the liquid electrolytic solution;

causing at least one vein in at least one limb of the person to distend in response to the electrical stimulation; and

inserting a ti of a needle into the veil! while the vein is distended to access the vein.

1.8. The method of claim 17, wherein the visibility of the vein is greater after the electrical stimulation than before the electrical stimulation.

.19, The method of claim 18, wherein a height of a skirt surface adjacent to the vein is greater after the electrical stimulation than before the electrical stimulation due to the distension of the vein

20. A method of accessing a vein of a person, the method comprising:

attaching a first electrode to a hand o the person;

attaching a second electrode to an arm of the person;

electrically stimulating a portion of a Umb of the person, with at least one signal generated by an electrical signal generator, the electrical signal provided to both the first electrode and the second electrode;

causing at least one vein in the limb of the person to distend m response to the electrical stimulation; and

inserting a tip of a needle into the vein while it is distended to tsccess the vein.

21. A kit for xss& wift a si glial generator, the kit comprising:

ai least iwo containers for ho iag an electrolytic solution;

a pre-filie bottle of Epsosn salt;

a bottle of deonized water;

at least two electrodes; and

at least two electrical leads for connecting the electrodes to a signal geoeraioi.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 06 June 2016 (06.06.2016)

1. An electrical venous stimulation apparatus, for causing target veins in a subject to distend from under the, surface of the subject's skin, without the aid of compression, the apparatus comprising:

a power supply;

a signal generator powered by the power supply; the signal generator configured to generate a specified electrical output signal;

at least two electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured to be placed in electrical communication with the subject; and

at least two electrical leads configured to provide the electrical output signal generated by the signal generator to the at least two electrodes, each of the at least two electrical leads connecting a.respective one of the at least two electrodes to the signal generator.

wherein the electrical output signal includes an output voltage, electrical current, and a waveform that changes with time i a preprogrammed repeating cycle, the output voltage, electrical current, and waveform being configured to elicit a physiological response that stimulates a plurality of peripheral nerves in the subject without the aid of compression, activates a venous muscle purrip mechanism, in one or more limbs of the subject without the aid of compression, and non-invasively alters the physiology of a target vein without the aid of compression, wherein the target vein is caused to distend tinder the surface of the subject's skin.

2. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1, further comprising at least two containers, wherein the first of the at least, two electrodes is physically connected to a first of the at: least two containers, and the second of the at least two electrodes is physically connected to a second of the at least two Containers.

3. The electrical venous.stimulation apparatus of claim 2, wherein each ofthe at least two containers includes one or more recessed regions sized and arranged to recei ve fingers of the subject therein, and configured to hold a liquid electrolyte solution..

4. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 3, wherein each of theat least two containers further comprises the liquid: electrolyte solution electrically connected to a respective one of the at least two electrodes to deli ver the electrical output signal tb- the subject through the liquid electrolyte solution.

5. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the at least t wo electrodes comprises a pair of conductive electrode pads with an adhesive layer disposed on one side thereof.

6. The electrical, venous stimul.ation .appaiatus of claim 5, wherein one electrode pad of the pair .of electrode pads is attached to a palmar surface of one hand o the subject, and the other electrode pad of the at least one pair of electrode pads is attached to an arm of the subject.

7. The electrical venous stimulation pparatus of claim 6, wherein a postttve output signal is supplied, to the electrode pad attached to the palmar surface of the one hand of the subject, and a negative. output signal is supplied to the: electrode pad attached to the arm of the subject.

8. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a variable control configured to adjust a magnitude of the output voltage.

9. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 8, wherein the.magnttude of the output voltage is: variable from about 0 to about 40 volts.

10. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim .1 , .wherein the subject is a human.

11. The electrical venous stimulation apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the signal generator further comprises:

a power switch;

an oscillator including an integrated circuit;

a variable control configured to adjust a magnitude of the output, voltage in response to an input; and

output circuitry comprising:

a first stage including at least two operational amplifiers and a capacitor; and

a second stage including a center tap. transformer.

12. A method of stimulating peripheral target veins in a subject, without the aid of compression, to cause the veins to distend from under a surface of the subject's skin to facilitate venipuncture, the method comprising:

generating an adjustable electrical output signal ith art electrical venous stimulation apparatus, the signal ihcluding.;ari adjustable output voltage, art adjustable current, and an adjustable output voltage waveform configured to elicit a physiological venous response in the subject that causes the target vein in'the subject to distend from under the surface of the subject's skin without the aid of compression, the electrical stimulation apparatus comprising:

(i) a powered signal generator configured to generate the adjustable electrical output signal, and

(ii) at least two electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator arid configured to be placed in electrical communication with the.subject; electrically connecting the. at least two electrodes to the s bjeet; and transmitting the output signal to the subject via the at least two electrodes to elicit the physiological venous response in the subject that causes the target vein in the subject to. distend from under the surface of the subject's skin without the aid of compression.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising-.

monitoring, by an electrical feedback: system in the signal .generator, the biological electrical feedback, from the subject in the form of the subject's biological electrical resistance and capacitance;

comparing, using a microprocessor integrated in the signal generator, the electrical feedback from the subject with the transmitted output signal; and

automatically adjusting subsequent output signals to be sent to the subject based on the comparison between the transmitted output signal and. the electrical feedback.

14. The method of claim .12, wherein the subject is a human.

15. A method of suppressing pain signals at a venous needle stick site of a subject, the method comprising:

generating an adjustable electrical output signal with an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, the signal including an adjustable output voltage,. n adjustable current, and an adjustable output voltage wavefonn configured to elicit a physiological venous response in the subject that causes a target vein in the subject to distend from under a surface of the subject's skin without the aid of compression, the electrical stimulation apparatus comprising:

(i) a powered signal generator configured to generate the adjustable electrical output signal^ and

(ii) at least two electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured to be placed in electrical communication with the subject; electrically connecting the. at least two electrodes to the subject; and transmitting the output signal to the subject via the at least two electrodes to stimulate peripheral nerves of the subjectand activate a venous pump mechanism in at least one limb of the subject to thereby suppress pain signals at the venous needle stick site of the patient.

16. The method of claim 15, Wherein the subject is a hutnan.

17. A method of. accessing a vein of a person, the method comprising:

receiving a portion of a first limb of the person into a first container that is physicall connected to.a first electrode;

receiving a portion of a second limb of the person into a second container that is physically connected t a second electrode;

supplying a liquid electrolytic solution into the first and second containers, wherein (i) the liquid electrolytic solution of the first container is in contact with the portion of the first limb and is electrically connected, to the first. electrode, and (ii) the liquid electrolytic solution of the second container is in contact with the portion of the. second limb and is electrically connected to the second electrode;

electrically stimulating-the portions of the first and second limbs with at least one electrical signal generated, by an electrical signal generator, the electrical signal provided to the liquid electrolytic solution of each of the first and second containers by the respective electrodes in contact with the liquid electrolytic solution;

causing at least one vein in at least One limb of the person to distend in response to the electrical stimulation; and

inserting a tip of a needle intbthe vein while the vejn is distended to access the vein.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the visibility of the vein is greater after the electrical stimulation than before the electrical stimulation.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein a height of a skin surface adjacent to the vein is greater after the electrical stimulation than before the. electrical stimulation due to the distension of the vein.

20. A method of accessing a vein of a person, the method comprising;

attaching a first electrode to a hand of the person:

attaching a second electrode to an arm of the person; electrically stimulating a portion of a l imb of the person with at least one signal generated b an electrical signal generator, the electrical signal provided to both the first electrode and the second electrode-;

causing at least one Vein in the limb of the pei'son to distend in response to the electrical stimulation; and

inserting .a ti of . a needle into the vein while it is distended to access the vein.

Description:
VENOUS ELECTRICAL STIMULATION APPARATUS AND METHODS A D USES THEREOF

TECHNICAL FIELD:

t l] This disekwtue relates to medical devices for providing improved venous access to aid. the drawing of blood from, adnvdristeririg fluids or drags via, or insertion of a peripheral intravenous cannula into, the veins of a patiesy,

BACKGROUND

[0002] lie single standard practice for gainin . ' peripheral venous access is. a medical patieiti has not changed significantly in over SO years, Typically, die staadard practice involves the use of a tooratquet applied to an upper portion of a patient's arm. lite application of a tourniquet stops die flow ofblood to the heart stud, allows whatever pressure is available ijorri Ihe arteries and capillaries to fill and distend the veins. A. medical practitioner, such as a doctor, physician's assistant, paramedic, or nurse, may then access the distended vein with a needle to draw blood, or insert a peripheral venous catheter or other such cannula into the distended vein fo administer drags or other fluids. This is a painful, sometimes dangerous, time consuming, and inaccurate method.

100 3} In a majority of patients, this approach is sufficient: for either the drawing of blood for hematology analysis, or for the placement of an intravenous cannula to administer fluids, including but not limited to volume expanders (e.g., colloids (e.g., blood, dextran, hydroxyethyi starch, sterna-free hemoglobin), crystalloids (e.g., norma! saline, Singer's Lactate, glucose/dextrose, Hartniaus's Solution), blood-based products (e.g., red blood cells, plasraa, platelets), blood substitutes (e. g., oxygen-carrying substitutes), buffer solutions (e.g., intravenous sodium bicarbonate. Ringer's Lactate), nutritional formula (e.g., peripheral paresteraai nutrition), or drags including but not limited to antibiotics, analgesics or chemotherapy iato the blood stream o f a patient. However in most patients, geriatric patients or cancer treatment patients for example, gaining venous access can be difficult and problematic for any number of reasons, which may lead to medical practitioners requiring multiple repeated attempts to successfully gain intravenous access to the patient's vein(s). Repeated attempts to gain venous access In a patient may result in a variety of adverse issues including hematomas. Said infiltration into the smroifndiiig tissue (which, with chemotherapy agents, can cause severe local reactions), pain, shock, discomfort, vasoconstriction, and in emergency situations, may require the practitioner to switch to either a central venous access approach or a "cut-down" (opening the tissue) to gain access to a vein.

{0t)O4| There are many types of patients is wh m these problems can mult. Elderly or geriatric patients frequently have frail veins or are peripherally shut down due to dehydration. Pediatric and neonatal (newborn) patients are especially difficult to gain venous access to., due to small veins and She significant immaturity of thei bodies. Patients who have lost blood volume through trauma, shock, or dehydration (such as E and paramedic patients, patients injured in road traffic accidents or mi litary combat, crash victims, famine victims, etc.) are likely to be peripherally shut down, making it difficult to locate and raise a vein, but are often the patients in whom medical practitioners most rapidly need to gain venous access. Obese patients arc yet another patient group ia which medical practitioners encounter difficulties in locating or raising vein for venous access. Cancer treatment patients also present difficulties for medical practitioners to gain venous access due to, among other things, phlebitis.

tMM15| Other methodologies and devices have been employed to attempt to l ocate target veins for venipuncture: or determine when a proper and successful venipuncture has been achieved. However, such devices and methodologies are either passive, noninvasive devices and techniques, or they are invasive mechanical devices and techniques that actually first require the puncture of the target vein in order to determine the position of the needle within the vein (which does not otherwise aid in locating the target vein or increasing the ease of inserting the needle into the target vein). One example of a passive technique and device is the use of a strong source of visible or ultraviolet light placed against the skin of the patient in an attempt to read the reflectivity of the underlying iron :in the patient's red blood cells in the target vein, through the patient's skin. While this passive technique m help to locate a target vein, it does not increase the ease of achieving soceess&l venipuncture. Additionally, the vein will often roll away from the needle when the medical practitioner tries to inset it. The drawback to using active mechanical devices that need to puncture the lumen to determine the position therein is thai, if the machine performing " the venipuncture goes im far and pushes the needle completely tjnrnigfi the opposite side of the .target vei n, the result i s a double " penetration of the vein requiring the tip off he needle to be withdrawn back into the lumen of (he vein. Accwdirigly such mechanical techniques are flawed in thai they permit the possibility of a double penetration which may result in blood leaking from the second vein puncture causing a hematoma in the patient.

[0006} Accordingly, there is a need for a more rapid, reliable, less painful, more efficient, safer and repeatable method o accessin a patient's veins in the bands, anas, feet or legs, to allow easier venous access by medical practitioners, in addition, there is a need for s medical apparatus that can cause a more rapid, reliable, and repeatable distension or expansion of veins in patient's hands, arms, feet or legs across a broader patient spectrum including geriatric, pediatric, neonatal, and trauma patients, to assist medical practitioners in gaining venous access.

SUMMARY

[0867| in general terras, this disclosure is directed to electrical venous stimulation;. In one possible configuration and by non-limiting example, the electrical venous stimulation is used to provide improved access to a vein without the necessity for a. tourniquet or other means of constriction or compression. Various aspects are described in tins disclosure, which include, but are not limited to, the following aspects.

[0068] One aspect is an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, for causing target veins in a subject to distend under the surface of the subject's skin, comprising: a. jxtwer supply; signal generator powered by the power supply, the signal generator configured to generate a specified electrical output sigisa!; and a plurality of electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured to be placed in electrical communication wi th the subject, wherein the electrical output signal includes an output voltage, electrical current, and waveform that: changes with tine its a preprogrammed repeating cycle, the output voltage, electrical current, and waveform being configured to elicit a physiological response that stimulates a plurality of peripheral nerves in the subject, activates a venous muscle pump mechanism in one or more limbs of the subject. and non-invasively alter the physiology of a target vein, wherein the target vein is earned to distend under " the surface of the subject's skia

[IMM19] Another aspect is a method of stimulating peripheral target: veins to cause the veins to distend trader the surface of a subject's skin to facilitate ve¾ipiBien«¾, comprising: generating an adjustable electrical output signal with an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, the signal including an adjustable output voltage, an adjustable cturent. and ait adjustable output voltage waveform configured to elicit a physiological venous response in the subject thai causes the target vein in the subject to protrude from under the surface of the subject's skin, the electrical stimulation apparatus including, a powered signal generator configured to generate the adjustable electrical signal, and a plurality of electrodes in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured io foe placed in electrical communication with the subject: and transmitting the output signal to the subject via (he plurality of electrodes.

j tOiO] A further aspect is a method of suppressing pain signals ai a. venous needle stick site of a subject, comprising: generating an adjustable electrical output signal with an electrical venous stimulation apparatus, the signal including an adjustable output: voltage, an adjustable current, and an adjustable output voltage waveform configured to elicit a physiological venous response in the subject that causes the target vein in the subject to distend under the surface of the subject's skin, the electrical stimulation apparatus including, a powered Signal generator configured to generate the adjustable electrical signal, and a plurality of electrodes in electrical communication with tiie signal generator and configured to be placed in electrical communication with the subject;, and transmitting the output signal to the subject via the plurality of electrodes, and thereby stimulating the peripheral nerves and activating the venous pump mechanism in at least one limb of the subject.

|IK>1 ij A further aspect is a method of accessing a vein of a person, the method comprising': receiving a portion of a limb of the person into a container; supplying a liquid electrolytic solution into the container, wherein the liquid electrolytic solution is in contact with the portion of the limb; electrically stimulating the portion of the limb with at least one signal generated by an electrical signal generator, the electrical signal provided to the electrolytic solution by at least one electrode in contact with the liquid electrolytic solution; causing at least one vein io the limb of five person to protrude in response to the electrical: siknufetiou; aad inserting a tip of a needle into the vein while it is protruding to access the vei .

ffto j Another aspect is Venous electrical stimulation apparatus lor temporarily enlarging and distending the peripheral veins in the limbs of a patient to make it easier for a medical practitioner to gain venous access when drawing blood or when inserting an intravenous cannula, such as a catheter, into the vein without the necessity for a tourniquet or other means of constriction or compression The venous electrical stimulation a paratus is configured to stimulate one or more muscles thai form m. anatomical part of the vein to cause the circumference of the vein's lumen to enlarge, thus making the target vein press against the skit), and simultaneously creating a vacuum in the target vein that can help increase the total volume of blood wi thin the vein, which also helps make it easier and safer to perform venipuncture.

10013} Ye another aspect is an apparatus that includes a signal generator having a pair of electrical output terminals, a power supply in electrical communicatio wish the ignal generator, at least a pair of electrical leads in electrical cotntnwnicatton at a proximal end with the output terminals of the signal generator, and at least a pair of electrodes in electrical coninmnication with the proximal ends of the leads, and configured to introduce the electrical signal into a patient (or subject). The patient or subject can be a mammal and more specifically, a human.

[0014] in anothe aspect the apparatus is configured to uon-invasively alter the physiology of the peripheral veins that are targeted for venipuncture in die limbs of a patient using an active electrical signal, rather than using passive means traditionally used or requiring the use of a tourniquet or other means of constriction or compression. In an aspect of the present disclosure, an active signal imparted to the skin of a patient by die apparatus elicits a physiological response and a change in condition behavior of the target vein, causing the vein to fii! wish blood arid become disiended eniarged and become more rigid, therefore increasing the visibility of the vein, in this manner, using such an apparatus and methodology, it becomes easier for medical practitioners So achieve successful and proper venipuncture. No other active device currently exists that non- invasively changes the physiology of the tissue in and around the target veins to aid in beating the target: vein and increasing: the ease of achieving successful and proper venipiffictnre without she seed for multiple attempts.

[O tS] hi yet another aspect, t!te electrical signal generator includes a plurality of capacitors -and resistors, and at least ύη& potentiometer for adjusting the output vol tage. The electrical signal generator further includes programming configured to adjust the output signal, which roa include one or more of the output voltage, output current, output voltage waveform., and/or signal frequency that is imparled to the patient over ?!!)u:.. to stimulate (he ven us pomp action in the motor muscles of the patient's limbs resulting i:tt distension of the peripheral veins of a patient. In one embodiment, the electrical signal generator is configured to change the output voltage and the shape of the output voltage waveform. Hie output voltage determines how many muscle fibers are recruited and fired (i.e. the muscle stimulation portion of the waveform), as well as how much energy is used to fire the nerve impulses across the synaptic junction. The shape of the output voltage waveform detenmnes what information is eaomwaicaied to the brain.

[IMiluj in another aspect, the elec trical signal generated is an AC signal of less than one nit!iiamp and the output voltage from the potentiometer is in the range of 0 to 90 volts.

4M)17| In another aspect, the electrical signal generator generates a specific predefined output voltage waveform that is imparted to the skin overlying the limbs of the patient. One portion of the generated electrical waveform is specifically tuned to the frequency, duty cycle, pulse width, and voltage at which the tiny, involuntary muscles surrounding the target veins and the nearby voluntary muscles exhibit a physical response, resulting in muscular expansion and contraction. This predefined waveform and the resultin response in the veins makes then] rigid and enlarges their circumference. Another portion of tire predefined waveform stimulates the nearby nerves in the skin to override any pain signals in the body resulting from the needle stick. This nerve stimulation reduces the pais and anxiety usually accompanying a vonpuncuse. Still another portion of fire electrical signal stimulates the brain to release endorphins to the body, thereby reducing anxiety in the patient

[0018] fa another aspect of the present disclosure is a method of providing medical practitioners with peripheral venous access in patients while suppressing pain, signals at a venous needle stick site by stimulating the peripheral nerves and activating the venous pump mechanism in the limbs of a ' patient using, aft ' external ' electrical stimulation apparatus, thereby causing the peripheral nerves to distend.

[0019] la another aspect for mm-emergency patieats, one benefit to using some embodiments disclosed herein is the reduction of {he time spent by medical practitioners acquiring venous access and the reduction of the number of failed attem ts at venom access in patient groups whom medical praetitsoaers historically have had difficulties gaining venous access. Furthermore, emergency si uations and for emergency patient ., having the ability to gain rapid venous access can increase the speed with which vital ihiids and/or drugs may be administered, ttiereby potentially saving vital minutes and patient lives.

BRIEF DESCRIPTIO OF THE DRA WINGS

[0020] ' The figures are for illustration purposes only and not necessarily drawn to scale. However, the present disclosure may he best understood by reference to the detailed description which follows when taken in conjunction wuh She accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0021] FIG. I is a top frost isometric view of an example embodiment of as.

electrical vein stimulation and expansion apparatus of the present disclosure.

10022] Fit! 2 is top isometric vsew of the electrical vein stimulation aad expansion apparatus of FIG. I, showing the cover of the electrics! signal generator in an open position to expose the internal circuitry and electrical components of the example electrical signal generator,

[0023] FIG. is another iop isomeiric view of the electrical vein stimulation and expansion apparatus of FIG. 1 .

[0024] FIG, 4 is a another iop front isometric view of the electrical vein stimulation and expansion apparatus of FIG. 1 , showing the apparatus ready for use wherein a patient has her fingertips pl ced in containers of electrolyte solution that are electrically connected to the signal generator of the apparatus. [6625] FIG. 5 is a another top front isometric view oi ' the electrical vein stimulation and expansion apparatus ' of FIG. showing the apparatus in use and illustrating: the distending and protruding of the patient's veins.

0626] FIG, 6 is an electrical schematic of an embodiment of a signal generator of the electrical van stimulation and expansion apparatus of me present disclosure.

[0027] FIO. 7 is a waveform graph of the output, voltage vs . time for one cycle of the output signal, such as generated by the signal generator shown in FIG. 6.

[0628] FIG. 8 is a waveform graph iljustraiing another exam le waveform.

[0029] FIG. 9 is a waveftom graph illustrating another example waveform.

[0030] FIG. 10 is a top view of an example embodiment of direct electrode placement for electrical vein si ru!aiion.

6031] FIO. 1 1 is a top view of an example embodiment of a kit comprising the electrical vein stimulation, and expansion apparatus of the present disclosure.

[0632| FIG 12 is a table illustrating example outputs from the electrical veia stimulation atid expansion apparatus of the present disclosure.

[0033] FIG, 13 is a waveform graph illustrating another example waveform,

[6034] FIG. i 4 is an electrical schematic of another embodiment of a signal generator of the electrical vein stimulation and expansion apparatus of the present disclosure.

[0035] FIG. 15 is a waveform graph illustrating another example waveform.

[0036] FIG, 16 is a waveform graph illustrating another example waveform.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

6637] Various embodiments will be described in detail with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts and assemblies throughout the several views. Reference to various embodiments does not limit the scope of the claims attached hereto. Additionally, any examples set forth in Shis specification are not intended to be limiting and merely set forth, some of the many possible embodiments for the appended claims.

[0038] While the present disclosure is capable of embodiment in various forms, there is shown in (he drawings, and will be hereinafter described, one or more presently preferred embodiments with the undemanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as m exeiaplitkaSion of the invention, and is not intended to limit the invention o the- specific embodiments illustrated herein. Headings are provided for convenience onl arid are not to be construed to limit (he invention in arty way.

Embodiments illustrated under my eadin may be combined with embodiments illustrated under any other heading.

(0O39J Referring to FIGS. 1-5, in general, disclosed herein is one eiabodisaeii of an electrical stimulation apparatus 1 configured to deliver an electrical signal through the anas or other limbs of a patient, from one limb, up through the limb, cross the spine and down the other limb and cause the veins in the hands, arras, legs or feet of the patient to distend or expand. In doing so, the stimulation apparatus makes the peripheral veins in the arms, hands, legs or feet of the palieat rnore visible, thereby providing a medical practitioner venous access for tire drawing of blood or the insertion of a ix-npheni " ; venous cannula. Th apparatus is generally placed in electrical communicati n with a patient's hands and/or arms (or other limbs) by a pair of electrodes or other means thai connects the device to the patient's arms or feet to deliver a predetermined electrical signal through the electrically connected limbs of the patient.

[0040] The veins thus become filled with blood while being subjected to tire electrical stimulation, increasing the internal pressure within the veins, without the necessity for a tourniquet or other means of constriction or compression. The increased pressure in the veins makes them more rigid, thereby increasing the physical resistance, or force, required to insert a needle or other intravenous cannulas therein. The increased physical resistance of the target vein permits the medical practitioner to have an improved physical feel for the insertion of the needle into the vein, and to better dMerentiate instances when the tip of the needle has been correctly inserted into the centra! turner! of the vein., from instances in which the needle has pierced through the vein (which can cause serious medical complications).

[9041] ITS genera!, (fee electrical stimulation, apparatus I. comprises an electrical signal generator 10, a power supply 12 in electrical communication with the signal generator and configured to supply power thereto, at least a pair of electrical leads 14 connected at a proximal end to a plurality of electrical output terminals 16 of the electrical sigriai generator, and ar least a pair of electrodes 18 connected to a distal end o f each of the electrical leads 14,

[00 2] The electrical power supply 12 may be a. portable power supply, such as for example a -9-volt battery/ other voltage battery, or rechargeable battery. Alternatively, the power supply may utilize a standard electrical power cord tha plugs into a typical power outlet in a waif

[9043] One example of the electrical signal generator 10 is shown in FIG, 6, while another example of the electrical signal generator 10 is shown in FIG. 14. The electrical signal generator 10 of FIG. 6 includes the power supply 12, electrical lead 14, container 28.. and electrolytic solution 30. Some embodiments include two or more electrical .signal generators 10, coupled to one ot more leads 1 , electrodes IS,, and eontaitters 28.

9044] The electrical signal generator 10 comprises eiectrical circuitry 20 operable to generate an electrical output signal, such as having a waveform illustrated and described with reference to FIG. 7, or another suitable waveform, such as the waveforms shown in FIGS. 8, 9, 13, 1.5, and 16. In some embodiments the eiectrical circuitry 20 includes electronics such as one or more of resistors, capacitors, transformers, and a

microprocessor in electrical communication with each other. In the example shown in FIG. 6, the eiectrical circuitry 20 of the electrical signal generator 10 includes a. power switch SO. oscillator 52, variable control 54, and output circuitry 56. In this example the oscillator 52 includes an integrated circuit, such as a microcontroller 60, lire output circuitry 56 includes a first stage 58, such as including operational amplifiers 64 and 66 and capacitor 68, and a second stage 60, including transformer 70. The output of the second stage 60 forms the output terminal 16, which can be electrically coupled to the lead 14 arid electrode 1 , to deliver the output signal to the patient.

[0045] The oscillator 52 operates to generate an initial oscillating signal, to this example * the oscillator includes a square wave generator. One example of a square wave generator is a microcontroller, such as the S-pht, Qash-faased 8-bit CMOS

microcontroller, part number PIC12F675, available from Microchip Technology Inc. of Chandler, AZ, US. Another example of a square wave generator is a 555 timer. The square wave generator produces a squarewave signal, which oscillates between low and high voltages, such as ' between 0 and 5 volts. In this example the square wave has a frequency- in a range from 4 ffe to 12.Hz. As one example the frequency s 7.83 Hz. F equencies- ia this range have been i micl to be preferred over faster frequencies because they give the nerves in the patient time So repo!anKe after -stimulation before the next stimulation. The frequency can be higher for a !teathiy person whose nerves can repolarize more quickly, while the frequency typically seeds to be tower for an unhealthy person whose nerves require more time to repolarize.

in sortie embodiments the signal generato 10 includes a variable control 54, such as one or more potentiometers 22, 24 ia electrical communication with the electrical circui try of the signal generator 10. The one or snore variable cont rols 54 allow an operator, such as a medical practitioner, the patient, or another person to provide an input to adjust the magnitude of the signal generated by the signal generator. 1 , such as to increase or decrease the magnitude of the signal, in this example, each potentiometer 22, 24 that is present in the signal generator corresponds to a separate output voltage channel (each having its own signal generator 10) having its ovva leads 14 and electrodes 18, and whose voltage is adjusted by its own intensity adjustment knob coupled to the variable control 54 that adjusts/sets he output voltage of that channel that is sent from the signal generator 10 to the patient via the leads 1 and electrodes 18. The ability to adjust the output voltage experienced. by the patient: allows a patient to have the voltage adjusted down to a comfortable level, which therefore contributes to lowering the patient's anxiety over use of the device., which thus reduces the chance of any anxiety or stress induced vasoconstriction that can reduce the amount of blood within the targeted veins, (0847J In one embodiment, the signal generator 10 includes two variable controls (e.g., potentiometers 22, 24% and therefore may have two separate output voltage channels each having its own signal generator 10, with each intensity knob and variable control 54 separately adjusting the output voltage to be sent to the patient along two sets of el ectrodes, corresponding to each of the two output voltage channels, A first of the two potentiometers 22 and its respective output voltage channel impart, an output voltage to the patient that is confi ured to cause the target vein to become swollen or distended A second of the two potentiometers 24 and its respective output voltage channel impart: an output voltage to the patient that is configured to stop the pain at the needle stick site by interrupting nerve signals associated with pain, in the present embodiment, the two output voltage channels are identical, but in alternate embadtiit&nts, each potentiornetej: may be cotifigored to adjust the output voltage is diilering ranges, Having separate channels, each with the abiitt to adjust the output voltage, allows the stinralatioa apparatus 1 to be configured to adapt to target eins in the foot, neck, elbow, or other such target vein sites,

[0048] In this example the electronic circuitry 20 of the signal generator JO further includes output circuitry 56. The output circuitry operates to convert the square wave signal generated by the oscillator 52 into a desired output signal, such, as having a waveform shown in FIGS. 7-9, 13, 15, or 16.

£00 9] The first stage 58 of the output circuitry includes electronics including operational amplifiers 64 and 66, and a capacitor 68. The first stage 58 is coupled to (he variable control 54 to -receive the input from a user to adjust the magnitude of the signal generated by the signal generator 10, in this example, the variable control 54 is a potentiometer thai provides a variable resistance. The variable control 54 is electrically coupled to an input of the operational amplifier 64. The voltage of the signal provided by the variable control 54 changes as the variable control is adjusted. The operational amplifier 64 is configured as a unity gain buffer amplifier in this example.

[0050} The oscillator 52 generates a square wave output (e.g., pin 7} that is then supplied to the capacitor 68. The capacitor 68 converts the square wave signal to a series of pulses having a leading edge with a sharp voltage transition, followed by a trailing edge in which the voltage tapers off.

| O5I j The signal is then provided to She second stage 66 where if is ikrther filtered and amplified such as using the amplifier including operational amplifier 66 arranged in a non- investing configuration.

[0052] The amplified signal is then provided to the second stage 60, including the transformer 70, which operates to amplify and rectify the signal.

[0053] in some embodiments the transformer 60 has an unequal ratio of windings. As one example, the transformer is a 1 : 1 transformer, which is arranged, in a step-up configuration to increase the voltage at the output. In other possible embodiments the transformer can be arranged in a step-down configuration. Other embodiments have other ratios; of windings. The output: can also be generated ia the second stage without using a uarisibrmer in yet oilier embodiments.

[00S4] in this example, the transformer 60 is a center tap traBsfontner. The- oscillating si nal generated .by the first stage 58 is provided to the primary winding and the center tap,, and operates in conjunction with a pair of diodes to rectify the output signal. The output si nal is generated at the secondary windings and supplied to the output terminal 1.6, The ratio of the primary windings to the secondary windings determines the amplification provided by the transformer 70.

[0055] & some embodiments., the circuitry 20 further includes electronic components, and/or programming, that are configured to atitoataticaily vary the output signal, which may include varying one or more of the output voltage, the output current, shape of the output voltage waveform, and/or frequency of the output signal over time, without having to adjust the variable controls (e.g., potentiometers 22, 24). In one embodiment, the output signal may be changed over time by executing specific computer code or a software program ta the microprocessor, hi another embodiment, the output signal may be randomly changed inexpensively by the inclusion of a typical flashing light emitting diode (TED) 63 within, the circuitry of the signal generator 10. Flashing LEDs automatically blink ' supplied with electrical power, alternating between an "on" and "off stale, with the frequency of flashing between the two states depending on the input voltage. In one embodiment, the .flashing LED is placed in the electrical circuit

downstream of the microprocessor and upstream of the amplifying circuit that is connected t the output leads that are attached to the patient by the electrodes. The flashing LED, oscillating between an "on" and "off state, is constantly switching the output current on and off causing the signal generator 10 to vary the electrical output signal and voltage over time, according to the Hashing frequency of the dashing LED. ia this manner, the LED acts as a repetitive timer for the output, signal from the signal generator. And because the frequency of the LED is dependent on, its input voltage, adjusting the voltage from the potentiometer will change the frequency of She flashing LED, so as to provide an infinitely variable output signal to the patient.

[0056] Furtliermore, the lower the quality of the components used to make the

Hashing LED, as with inexpensive flashing LEDs, the more variation or randomness there will be in ' the consistency or siaMeness of the frequency of the flashing lor a given v¾hage. Accordingly, lower ' qualify. flashing LEDs provide a flashing pattern thai is more random (baa (hat of higher quality flashing LEDs. Therefore, m om embodiment, to achieve more ran omness in {lie frequency of the electrical signal sent to tbe patient from the signal generator 10, it may be beneficial to use lower quality flashing LED within the circuitry as disclosed herein.

| 57| in still alternate embodiments, additional methods to vary the output signal and voltage over time are contemplated herein, without departing from ihe scope of the present disclosure. By varying the output signal in the maimer disclosed herein, tbe patient's body is constantly reacting to the changing output signal, rather than possibly becoming accustomed to a constant output signal to which the venous sys em might otherwise no longer respond after a short exposure thereto,

[0058] The signal generator 10 may also include at least one indicator 32, such as an LED or other lighted indicator, to indkate to the medical practitioner utilising the electrical stimulation apparatus 1 as to when the power to the apparatus is turned "on." Au additional indicator may he included to indicate when the electrical signal ts being sent to a patient, hi one embodiment, the indicator may perform both functions, however, in alternate embodiments, separate indicators may be utilized to communicate each of the two functions.

10859] The apparatus 1 may also include programming and/or a display screes configured to communicate and display for the medical practitioner die real time ut t voltage and signal, an initial set output voltage and signal, fault conditions, stimulation apparatus fault diagnostic information, or any other such setting, output, or feedback information as may be desired. In another embodiment, the apparatus 1 may include a display configured to graphically display the real time electrical information (e. g. the electrical signal and/or voltage vs. time) being sent to the patient, in still further embodiments, the stimulation apparatus I may include data output programming and associated output connectors that are configured to permit the apparatus to be connected to a separate, stand-alone external display for displaying any/all of the in orniatkm disclosed herein. |086«| .la Sixac: embodiments the electronic circuitry 20 is arrange on one or more circuit boards; The circui t boards include at least One subsiate iisyttt, and typically have at least oae layer of -electrical traces formed thereon to make electrical c iiaecti iis between the electronic components. In some embodiments the electronic signal generator 10 is ibrmed on the circuit board,

j9061 | The output signal is sent from the signal generator 10 to the patient's body by {wo electrical leads 26 that are connected at a proximal end to the signal generator 10, and ai a dis al end to a pair of electrodes IS. la one embodiment of the present disclosure, the electrodes 18 may be configured as a pair of cups 28 or containers, such as for example, a pair of manicure sail soaking ho is or other such similar containers, that are configured io hold a liquid electrolyte solution 30 into which the finger and thumb tips of a patient are to be submerged. I some embodiments the containers include oae or more recessed regions sized, and shaped to receive at least the tips of the fingers of a hand, or the toes of a foot, therein. The purpose of usin an electrolyte solution is to provide a conductive liquid e ium into which the pattest may place his fingers and through which the electrical signal may be delivered to the patient. In one em ' bodi ent, the electrolyte solution may be a mix of minerals and water. However, in alternate embodiments, the electrolyte solution may be any other type of solution used for increasing electrical conductivity between lite electrical leads and the skin of a patient.

10962] to another embodiment of the present disclosure, the electrodes may be configured as a pair of conductive electrode pads having a conductive gel or adhesi ve layer disposed on one side thereof to help adhere the electrode pad to the skin of a patient and to aid in making good electrical contact between the conductive pad and the patient's skin. Such electrode pads may be similar io those used with transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) devices or portable defibrillators, in addition, the electrode pads may be disposable. In one example embodiment, as shown in FIG. 10, at least one pair of electrodes 1 0, 182 are configured as conductive electrode pads with an adhesive backing on one side thereof, such thai a first electrode 180 of the pair of electrodes is attached to a palmar surface of one hand of a patient and a second el ectrode J 82 of the pair of electrodes is attached to an a m, preferably to the hieep. of the patient. In the embodiment of FIG. 10, She arm to which the second electrode 1.82 is attached is the same arm as the hand, to whic the last electrode 180 is attached. Alternatively, the- second electrode 182 may be attached to the patient's other arm.. However, in this ease, a greater level of intensity of the output signal would l ikely need to be supplied to the patient to a hieve an. effective vein distension. As. also shown in FIG. 0, the pair of electrodes 180, 182 are each connected to a distal end of an electrical lead 140, which art: each connected at a proximal end to the signal generator (sot shown) of the stimulation apparatus. In one example embodiment, the electrode 18 attached to the palmar surface of one hand of the patient will supply a positive output signal to the patient, while the other electrode 182 attached to the arm of the patient will supply a negative output signal to the patient. Alternatively,, die negative output signal can be supplied to electrode I SO, while the positive output signal can he supplied to electrode 182.

9063] After attachment of the pair of electrodes Ϊ 80, i 82 to the patient, the signal generator may be tismed on to supply the output signal to the patient and to begin the electrical stimulation-. The intensity of the output signal can be increased if no physical response, e.g., muscle fasciculation and/or vein distension, is observed. Alternatively, if the patient is experiencing discomfort, the intensity of the ouput signal can be decreased to a level that is tolerable, but that still produces a physical response, as discussed above. As (he output signal is sent from the signal generator to the patient's body by the two electrical leads 140 that are connected at a proximal end to the signal generator (not shown), an at a distal end io the pair of electrodes 1 0,182, distension of the veins in the patient's ami will begin and will generally last for at least about ten (10) minutes, and may even last for more than about fifteen (1 S) minutes. In one example embodiment, the electrical stimulation is continued for at least two (2) minutes, but for no more than ten (10) minutes. In particular, the electrical stimulation can be discontinued o ce the targes vein is visible and or palpable. Once the target vein has become distended, the signal generator may be turned off, and venipuncture or any other medical procedure requiring vein distension may be performed.

9064] In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1 1, the electrical stimulation apparatus of the present disclosure may comprise a kit for use by a medical practioner. The kit can include a signal generator 1 0 that is preferably battery operated, a pair of containers 28 for holding an electrolytic solution, a prefilied labeled bottle of Epsom salt 11.0, a bottle of deonized wafer J I S, and a disposable electrode assembly 1 12 thai includes a pair of electrodes an a pair of electrical leads for connect irig the pair of electrodes to the sigtia 1 generator 100. The kit can be used for electrical -stimulation of a patient by either using the containers 28 to- which the electrodes are attached an the electrolytic solution is added., as discussed in one of the embodiments above,, or by directly connecting the electrodes to the patient, as discussed in another of the embodiments above.

jW) S} In the ease of electrical stimulation of a ti t using the containers 28 to which, the electrolytic solution is added, the electrolytic solution cat} be re aid by adding the supplied deiontxed water 1 15 to the pre filled botSle of Epsom salt 1 10. hi oue embodiment, the Epsom salt concentration is at .least about 30 g/L. The electrodes are thereafter attached to She containers 28, and a patient may shea place their hands into the containers 28, prior to the addition of the prepared electrolytic- solution into the containers 28. The electrodes are then attached to tfce signal generator KH) via the supplied electrical leads, and the signal generator 100 can be turned on to supply the output signal to the pair of electrodes. One of the electrodes can be supplied a negative output signal, while the other electrode can be supplied a positive- output signal. As discussed, above, once the target vein has become distended, the signal generator may be turned off, and venipuncture or any other medical procedure requiring vein distension may b performed. Prior to performing venipuncture, however, it inay be preferred to wash the patient's hands with water in order to remove the salt solution, which may affect the outcome of any blood chemistry analysis.

[00 6] While the previous embodiments disclosed the electrodes configured as either small, containers for peraiitting the fingertips to be placed into an electrolyte solution, or conductive electrode pads, the electrodes should not be limited to such embodiments and in alternate embodiments may have alternate configurations as desired. For example, in alternate embodiments, the electrodes may be alternate sized containers that permit the submersion of a patient's full hands, feet, or any portion of the patient's body, including but not limited to arms and/or legs, into an electrolyte solution in electrical

eotntnunication with the signal generator. In still alternate embodiments, the electrodes may be one or more of a metal pin-type probe or metal plate that are contact based electrodes. In still alternate embodiments, the electrode may e a finger clamp-type probe that is similar in mechanical structure to. those used to measure pulse oximetry. In yet additional embodiments, the electrodes may fce " conductive ' garments, or other such contact-based electrode having an alternate physical configuration, wi!hont departing from the scope of the disclosure herein, in ye t as additional embodiment, the electrodes may be configured as one or more electromagnets that generate a magnetic field, into which magnetic field the pattest may place his hands, feci, or limbs, T he electromagnetic field is configured to generate a complementary electric signal in the patient's body via changes to the magneti field. In such an. embodiment, the patient is not directly connected to the signal generator,

[ 067] la one embodiment, the electrical signal output irom the signal generator 10 sent to a patient's limbs through the electrodes includes an electrical signal Shirt is aa alternating signal (AC). la. one embodiment, the AC signal seat to the patient has a frequency of 7.83 Ex (or 7.83 Ml alternating cycles per second). This means that the output circuit is interrupted 7,83 times per second. This frequency of 7.83 Hz has been selected in one embodiment to provide the nerves of the patient time to repolarixe between successive output signals, and thus have time to get prepared for the next subsequent output signal. By providing adequate time to allow the serves to repolarize, the signal generated by the signal generator 10 has a consistent effect on the skin, nerves, and muscles in the vicinity of the electrodes.

10968] in another example embodiment, as shown in FIG. 12, the AC signal sent to the patient has a frequency of 7,9 Hz, with an assyxnetrical charged balanced biphasic waveform. The duration of the pulse at 1200 ohrn.s, 1600 ohms, and 950 ohms is 68.8 as, 60.0 μ«, and 77.0 ps, respectively. In addition, the maximum amplitude at 1200 ohms, 1600 ohms, and 950 ohms is 80.4 V rai , 94.4 V «a!l> and 70.5 V s;iak , respectively. While FIG. 12 displays one embodiment of theoretical standard measurements across purely resisti ve loads at maximum intensity settings, outputs may vary depending on parameter settings.

|0O69| However, while the above embodiments operate at frequencies of 7.83 Hz and 7,9 Hz, respectively, the frequency of the output signal should not be read to be limited only to such specified frequencies, and in alternate embodiments, the AC or DC signal may have a diff erent frequency without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. In alternate embodirueots, the frequency of the output signal may be any- alternate frequency, depending on ' the specific circuitry design! of the signal generator. For example, its an alternate embodiment, a different duty cycle or output cycle, or even a different wa eform that is subsequently developed, may ¾tse a different frequency. Furthermore, i« alternate embodiments, th signal generator 10 may be configured to adjust the frequency or waveform of the output signal based on sensed feedback related to die physiological differences between patients of different ages, the patient's circulatory system patency, aad other biomedical ami/or bioeleetrical aspects of die patient's body, hi cms embodiment, the microprocessor in the signal generator 10 taay further contain programming that adjusts the output signal for the changes that are usually associated with as aging patient, such as thinner skin, more sensitive skin, skin that is sensitive to bleeding, etc.

[0070] la one embodiment, the output voltage from the signal generator 10, which is set by at least one of the potentiometers 22, 24, is initially set to be within the range of between 0 volts and 90 volts. In another embodiment, eac of the two output voltage channels may be set to be within the range of between 0 volts and 90 volts, .However, in alternate embodiments, the potentiometers 22, 24 may have larger or smaller output voltage ranges than that disclosed herein, and may each be selectabl set: to an initial output voltage value, or adjusted to a new output voltage value, within such larger or smaller voltage -ranges, without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.

[0071] FEEDBACK SYSTEM

(0072J Tire signal generator ! 0 may farther include an integrated feedback system that is con figured to measure the resistance and capacitance of the patient's body during (he time between each successive cycle of the output signal, lii one embodiment, (lie feedback system atiiizes a ten to one (10: 1) audio transformer thai responds to the electrical and eapacitive resistance (i.e., electrical back pressure) of the patient's body, as well as any changes thereto, in order to adjust the output signal sent to the patient. Each inunais body presents with an electrical resistance. This resistance can change with ihe body's weight, hydration, etc. This electrical resistance can also change during the treatment. The signai generator 10 uses the audio transformer to measure the electrical resistance of the patient's body and, in response, appropriately alter the output voltage and/or current traiismitted to the patient as part oi the signal, hi doing so., the signal may lie altered baaed on the feedback from the feedback system to ensure that tire signal generator 10 ' is -eliciting the same clinical or physiological response i the patient's body, eves when the patient's bodily response to treatment is changing (i.e. changes to. the patient's electrical back pressure, or bodily resistance and or capacitance).

[0073} A simple trans former perforins the job of monitoring the electrical back pressure of the patient's body simply and inexpensively. When the microprocessor, via the transformer in electrical. eoHinumieation with the patient, detects a very high electrical resistance in the patient's body, then very little current will flow from the signal generator into the patient for a given constant outpni voltage from the signal generator to the patient. If the input current: ixoin the signal generator is very low {as when powered by a small battery), and if the output voltage ieads do not have much resistance, then the battery power decreases and the current drops significantly. The measured electrical resistance of (fee human body is fairly constant, but the capacitance of the human body catt vary greatly. This is a concern, because the sudden release of electrical energy or charge from the capacitor-like parts of the human body can result m the body receiving a painful jolt of electricity that may potentially cause damage to the patieat's nervous or cardiac system, and otherwise interrupt the desired clinical response in the patient's body caused by the treatment.

10074] The transformer of the feedbaek system filters art output voltage of the signal generator,, which voltage fluctuates over rime according to a preprogrammed voltage waveform, to allow the specific portions of the voltage waveform that are the most effective at eliciting the desired vein distension response to pass through to the .patien The electrical back essure in the patient causes a reaction in the patient's body that creates a resulting electrical signal from the patient's body that can be captured and read by (he signal generator, which can then be used as art n ut to adjust the output voltage of the next cycle of the output signal from the signal generator.

\W?S\ In alternate embodiments, the feedbaek mechanism may be specific

programming within the microprocessor of the signal generator that is configured to monitor the feedback of the patient's electrical resistance and capacitance and, in turn, adjust the output signal sent to the patient based on the monitored feedback, in still alternate emhodnnents, tins, feedback system may utilize a plurality of sensors configured to measure the patient's resistance and capacitance, or any other -such electrical component m ute code configured to measure feedback resistance and■ capacitance, without departing irora the scope of the present disclosure,

[0076] In one embodiment, the apparatus 1 can be configured to stop ail oaf put signals from the sign l generator 10 and wait for the patient's bod to react to file last output signal When the patient's body reacts to the last signal, the patient* body produces a resulting electrical s gnal that can be captured by the signal generator 10, analyzed., nd used to alter the next output signal from the signal generator 10 that is seat to the patient. This can be done in real time with the appropriate microprocessor and software, in an alternate embodiment, if the feedback mechanism of the signal generator measures a change in a patient's bioelectrieal resistance or capacitance of more than 10% between successive cycles of the output signals, the signal generator is configured to shut off or go into a fault mode, as a change of larger than 1 may indicate that the patient's body is experiencing a stress response and no is longer responding to the output signals. In one embodiment, the signal generator would automatically adjust She output signal waveform, voltage, and current based on the individual patient's specific physiology and related bioelectrieal properties.

[0077] In still further embodiments, the signal generator includes software to collect physiological data from, the patient using the stimul tion apparatus, including the patient's physiological response data. That data can then fee stored and analyzed by the signal generator and used to change the output signal in real time, so as to optimize the output signal and the achieved venous response for the specific patient,

[0078] Included in the signal generator may be a microprocessor having

programming therein configured to control the amount of current and voltage being sent to the patient via the electrodes, as well as the shape of the output voltage waveform mat is being sent to the patient, monitor the electrical feedback received from the patient (i.e. the patient's in ernal bodily resistance and capacitance), and automatically djus in real time, any of the voltage output, the current output, or the shape of the voltage waveform being sent to the patient. The microprocessor may be any programmable microprocessor having any speed or internal memory size without departing form the scope of the present disclosure, in one embodiment, the microprocessor may irrcliide a comparator circuit configured to compare the original oatpiit signal S nt to the patient from the signal generator to fire returned, signal from the patient lite results of she comparison ate then used by the microprocessor to change the output signal proportionately to balance the next output signal sent to the patient. I» such art embodiment, the microprocessor may have a baseline waveform stored in its memory which is sent to the patient with the first, signal. A response/reflex signal is then sent back to the microprocessor from the patient through the feedback system, which response/reflex signal is also stored in the

microprocessor. Thereafter, the microprocessor adapts the nest outgoing signal based -on the prior stored incoming response reflex signal to gently coax the patient's, nerves to cany the best waveform, voltage, arid current necessary to produce the greatest visible presentation, of the vein. This comparative process ensures thai the ouiput signal being set to the patient each time will contiaue to elicit the desired physiological and clinical response its the peripheral veins of the patient, preventin the patient's bod from getting accustomed to the signal being sent.

[0079] Furthermore, the processor includes programming configured to maintain a predefined signal frequency. For example, in one embodiment, the microprocessor is programmed to maintain a preprogrammed signal frequency of 7.83Hz. However, in alternate embodiments, alternate frequencies may be chosen without departing from the present disclosure. For example, in some patient groups or subsets, such as obese patients, geriatric patients, or neonatal patients, alternate signal frequencies may be needed to aid irt eliciting the optimal venous presentation results, in addition, it) an embodiment, the microprocessor may be programmed and configured to continue to operate properly on a constantly declining voltage, such as for example when the power supply is a battery that slowly runs out of power over time and continued use.

10Q8OJ WAVEFORM GRAPH

[008 !] FIG. 7 shows an exemplary graph: of an embodiments of active portions of a. single cycle of a signal. The graph shows an output voltage (the Y-axis) of the output signal, versus time in milliseconds (the X-Axis), that is able to illicit the desired vein distension and pain, suppression response in a patient. The shape of the signal, including the location and amplitude of the various peaks and valleys therein, is an exemplary avet Ho that is able to elicit active, signal-based enlargement, of the target peripheral veins, which a ds in {he perforating, of vesdpuse ure b medical practitioners, for example, FIGS. 8, 9, 13, 15, and 16 show additional exemplary waveform grapbs of active portions of a single cycle of a signal,

[0082] Referring further to FIG. 7, a plwality of points i-ίί are identified OB the graphed waveforni showing the output signal's output voltage vs. tune. Point I on the graph corresponds to the beginning of a new cycle of the repetitive output signal, and indicates the initial output oltage from the si nal generato that is selected to alert or stimulate a patient's sensory nerve (via its dendrites in the surface of: {he skin) io a change in condition. This initial output voltage initiates a tiny electrical signal in the patient's body, having a unique voltage, current, and waveform, to be sent to the centra! nervous system so the brain cats monitor flte extremities, fa response, the brain sends a healing signal back to thai specific sensors' dendrite twin which the signal to the brain originated.0O835 Point 2 on the graph corresponds to the prirnaty effecti ve portion of (he nerve stimulation signal. This point is the mam output voltage in the nerve stimulating portion of the output signal that causes the peripheral serves in the patient's limbs to over-react and causes a simultaneous tetany or spasm of the nearby muscles surrounding the target peripheral veins. ' This is the portion of the waveform that is adjusted via the knob of one of the potentiometers 22, 24 OH the signal generator . In overweight patients, the voltage level at Point 2 is automatically suppressed by a layer of fat in the skin. Accordingly, for overweight patients, in order to get the signal to reach the nerves of the patient and overcome the resistance of the fat layer, it may be necessary to send a higher output voltage to the patient. This can. be accomplished by usiug a (en to one (10: 1 ) audio transformer, or other such transformer, in the signal generator to amplify the output voltage signal, sent to the patient .Alternatively, the increasing of the voltage to overcome the resistance of the lat layer so the signal may reach the nerves may also be

accomplished by the implementation of programming contained to the microprocessor.

[9084] Point 3 in the voltage waveform graph corresponds to the output voltage that triggers the sensory nerve in She patient to "turn off" In this regard. Point 3 is the voltage that triggers the serve to foe at rest and reset to its standby voltage, waiting to be used or triggered "on" again in the next subsequent cycle of the output signal. Point 4 in the voltage waveform graph is the output voltage that can els the positive portion of the signal and■■balances ifee stimulation apparatus' serve signal to allow the nerve time to reset itself, or repolarize.

|0085j Point 5 in the waveform graph corresponds to the muscle stinmlatton portion of the output signal, and is the output voltage that causes the motor muscles to stimulate the venous muscle pump that in turn causes the veins to distend and fill with blood, in the waveform presented in FIG. ? . , the length of time during which this portion of the signal is active is small, however in some patients (fee leiigth of time over whieh this portion of the output voltage HI the output signal is active will be adjusted to achieve the proper amount of voluntary muscle stimulation to activate the venous muscle pump. The longer that this portion of the signal is active, the more that the muscles ace stimulated. ftt addition., the small involuntary smooth muscles surrounding the veins require a different amount of active stimulation time to activate th venous muscle pump actios than that of the larger muscles. This portion of the waveform also maybe adjusted from patient to patient to achieve the optimal venous muscle pump action 3» each patient.

[0086] Point 6 iti the waveform graph is the point at which the motor muscle stimulation is shut off to allow them to reset and get ready for the next cycle of the signal. Point 7 isi the waveform graph corresponds to a reflex signal back pressure from the patient's peripheral nervous system, indicating that the nervous system is trying to take over control of the nerves and muscles and stabilise the patient's muscle and nerve activity. Point 8 in the wavefotm graph corresponds to a. period of zero output voltage to the patient, and is part of the integrated feedback loop that the peripheral nervous system uses to gently restore the patient's baseline ekctncai potential back to its original resting electrical potential, or iitietTtai voltage. n comfortable, relaxed patients, their resting potential, or measured voltage, may be on the order of 20 millivolts. However, in some patients who ate anxious, their measured resting potential maybe zero volts, or a positive measured voltage, which are otherwise higher electrical potentials or voltages than, a typical relaxed patient. This initial resting potential measurement is used, to setup She basic parameters of the first and each succeeding treatment output Signal from the signal generator. [9087] Point 9 in. the waveform graph corresponds to the patient's baseline condition, whereby here is no active output signal of -voltage being seat to the patient's body, .and site patient Ls otherwise unaffected by any output: signal front the stimulation apparatus. This also corresponds to the period during- which the signal generator is monitoring sh patient's internal electrical potential and preparing to initiate a new cycle of the signal, and adjusting the active portion of the output signal based on the feedback .monitored from the patient,

[90881 APPARATUS OPERATION AND STIMULATION ACTION

[0089] Iti operation, the stimulation apparatus functions as fellows. The ■■ electrodes are placed in electrical contact with the fingers, hands, and/or limbs ol * a patient. In oae embodiment, this involves the patient placing the fingertips of each hand into separate containers of an electrolyte solution. The electrolyte solution in each container is placed in electrical communication with the signal generator by separate electrical leads that are terminated at one end in the electrolyte solution, and at: the opposite end to output contacts of the signal generator, in alternate embodiments, the electrodes may be adhesive hacked pads that are affixed directly to the patient's skin,

[9096] The power source supplies power to the signal generator- The medical practitioner adjusts the output voltage to the patient by rotating an adjustment knob of at least oae potentiometer. The signal generator is switched "on" and the preprogrammed electrical output signal is transmitted through the leads and electrodes to the fingertips, hands, and/or arms of the patient. The preprogniraraed output signal includes a. repetitive cycle of preprogrammed fluctuating output: voltages at various specified points in time for each cycle, in one embodiment, the initial output voltage ma be set between 0 and 90 volts and the signal, delivered is less than one mHltamp. However, in alternate

embodiments, the output voltage range may be larger or smaller, or cover a different voltage range than that disclosed in the present embodiment, and the output signal may be larger than 1 niilliasnp without departing horn the scope of she present di sclosure.9 91] Each cycle of the output electrical Signal includes a period of active output voltage and a period of rest, where no output voltage is being imparted to the patient's limbs. The preprogrammed output voltage may include several phases including, one or more of the following: an initiation phase that alerts the patient's sensory nerve to the presence of the output voltage;- a primary nerve stimulation phase thai causes die peripheral nerves to force the motor muscles surrounding; this peripheral target veins to contract:; end to the nerve stimulation phase thai, terns "off ie sensory nerve; a balancing phase that cancels the stimulation signals .that were seat to the nerves to allow the nerves to reset; a muscle stimulation phase that: activates the venous muscle pump; a shutdown phase that cods the activation of the motor muscles; as electrical hack pressure phase; aa electrical feedback phase, and rest phase with no active voltage output to allow the patient's system time to reset before the next cycle begins. This cycling part of the waveform in. the current embodiment is not exclusive of other possible waveforms. What is envisioned is a waveform that causes ah the actions described in tins application and may vary relative to the patient's physiology, the design and limitations of the eieeiroriic cit iiiy, and/or tiie method used to deliver the signals io the patient.

¾>2] The result of the repetitive electrical cycles in the output signal that are imparled to the patient is a physiological response in she patient as follows. One portion, of the generated electrical signal stimulates the involuntary smooth muscles near the electrodes to contract and relax. These muscles are circular in nature and when they contract they form a tube. This tube is larger than normal and creates a vacuum which can have the effect of drawing in whatever blood is available via the capillaries and the nearby arteries, hi addition, part of the waveform stimulates the adjacent, muscles which act as a venous muscle pump to increase the local biood pressure in the veins, thus adding more blood to the now visually obvious and. distended veins. This venous muscle pump is the body's way of moving blood from the arteries and capillaries back to the heart. The multitude of val ves present in the veins prevent retrograde blood Sow, thus aiding the enlarging of the target veins internal volume for easier access for venipuncture. For some patient groups, such as geriatric patients, this venous muscle pump action may be further aided in conjunction with the presently disclosed electrical venous stimulation apparatus, by the use of a tourniquet applied between the target vein and the heart . However, the presently disclosed electrical venous stimulation apparatus can activate the venous muscle pump action without the need of a tourniquet or other means of constriction or compression. 10093} The electrical venous stinuuaiion apparatus works best to present the veins irs the back of the hands, top of ' the feci and the forearms. In one .embodiment, th electrical venous stimulation apparatus further operates as. a TENS device in that there is a portion of the output voltage wsvefomi that is configured to numb the tissue adjacent the electrodes (and accordingly the target vein site), all the wa to the media! portion of the forearm. T his Included functionality makes the process of inserting a needle into a target vein while using the electrical venous stimulation apparatus Jess painfuJ to the patient when the needle stick actually occurs. In embodiments having two potentiometers, (lie second potentiometer controls, the output voltage channel thai creates the TENS device functionality. The second output channel can be configured to attach directly on the sfcta of (he patient nearby the projected needle stick site to focus the numbing effect to a specifically local area. The second ehaanel can be configured to perform this nerve deadening function specifically. Thus in one ejiihodiment, one output voltage channel is used to achie ve the displaying of an enlarged, engorged vein, and the oilier output voltage channel is used t numb the area of the needle stick ' .

|(K> 4j The apparatus of the present disclosure is configured, to aoa-invasi veiy alter the physiology of the peripheral veins that are targeted for venipuncture in the limbs of a patient using an active electrical signal, rather than using passive means traditionally used, or requiring the use of a tourniquet or another means of constriction or compression, in an aspect of the present disclosure, an active signal imparted to the skin of a patient by the apparatus elicits a physiological response and a. change in

condition/behavior of the target vein., causing the vein to fill with blood and become distended/enlarged and become more rigid, thereby increasing visibility of the vein, as shown in FIG. S. in this manner, using such aa apparatus aad methodology as disclosed herein, it becomes easier for medical practitioners to locate the target vein and achieve successful and proper venipuncture. Mo other active device currently exists that non~ invasively changes the physiology of the tissue in and around the target veins to aid ia locating the target vein and increasing the ease of achieving successful and proper venipuncture without (be need for multiple attempts.

[00 5] As discussed herein, one embodiment is a method of accessing a vein of a person, the method comprising: recei ving a portion of a hush of the person into a container; supplying ' a liquid electrolytic soltsiion into the container, wherein the liquid electrolytic .solution is if) contact with the porti n: of the 1Mb; electrically ssirmilatiag the portion of the limb with at least one signal generated by at! electrical signs! generator, the electrical signal provided to the electrolytic solution by at least one electrode m contact with the liqu id electrolytic solution; causing at least one vein w the limb, of the person to protrude is response to the electrical stimulation; and inserting a tip of a needle into, the vein while it is protruding to access the vein.

[ 096] The various embodiments described above are provided, by way of illustration only and should not be construed to limit the claims attached hereto- Those skilled irt die art will readily recognize various fnodilscations and changes that may be made without following the example embodiments and applications illustrated and described herein, and without departing from the true spirit and scope of the following claims