A new handheld device could enable the quick detection of haematomas in patients with traumatic brain injuries.
It uses near-infrared sensing to detect changes in blood volume in the membranes enveloping the brain and spinal cord.
‘When accidents that involve traumatic brain injuries occur, a speedy diagnosis followed by the proper treatment can mean the difference between life and death,’ said the research team in a statement, which is led by Dr Jason Riley of the Section on Analytical and Functional Biophotonics at the US National Institutes of Health.
Haematomas occur when blood vessels become damaged and blood seeps out into surrounding tissues where it can cause significant and dangerous swelling.
The device relies on a simplified single-source configuration with a dual separation detector array and uses motion as a signal for detecting changes in blood volume in the tough, outermost membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord.
One of the primary applications for the finished device will be the rapid screening of traumatic brain injury patients before using more expensive and over-subscribed computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) imaging techniques.
In fact, for cases where CT and MRI imaging facilities aren’t available, such as battlefields or on the scene of accidents, the team believes near-infrared imaging will help to determine the urgency of patient transport and treatment, as well as provide a means of monitoring known haematomas at the bedside or outpatient clinic.