Monday, 08 July 2019 10:53

Flinders team develops tiny blood flow monitor for risky surgery Featured

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Professor John Arkwright: “The minimally invasive device is suitable for neonates right through to adults." Professor John Arkwright: “The minimally invasive device is suitable for neonates right through to adults." Courtesy Flinders University

A team of scientists at Flinders University is working on developing a small fibre-optic sensor, known as a continuous cardiac flow monitoring probe, that is claimed to have the potential to save lives during open-heart surgery, and even be used during surgery on premature babies.

A statement from the university said the new device could be better at the task of monitoring the flow of blood through the aorta, the main artery, during intensive care and surgical procedures which often took a long time and were quite risky.

“The minimally invasive device is suitable for neonates right through to adults,” said research leader, Strategic Professor John Arkwright, an expert in using fibre-optic technologies in medical diagnostics.

He said the device would be particularly useful during surgery on very young babies who are more susceptible to sudden drops in blood pressure and oxygen delivery to vital organs.

“It’s a far more responsive measurement compared to traditional blood flow monitoring – and without life-threatening delays in the period ‘snapshot’ provided by current blood flow practices using ultrasound or thermo-dilution," Professor Arkwright said.

heart probe

The continuous cardiac flow monitoring probe is the little black bit after the LED. Photo: Flinders University

Neonatal expert and co-investigator Dr Scott Morris, from the Flinders Medical Centre Neonatal Unit and Flinders University College of Medicine and Public Health, said the new device promised to deliver accurate blood flow information in critically ill patients, from pre-term babies to cardiac bypass patients.

“This tiny device, which could even be used in pre-term infants, has the potential to be far superior to the intermittent measure of averaged blood flow delivered by traditional methods which generally only show time averaged flow every 30 minutes or so,” he said.

More research will be needed to find out how the sensor will behave under different physiological conditions and to examine different encapsulations to comply with human safety.

A paper on the device, titled Optical flow sensor for continuous invasive measurement of blood flow velocity, was published in the Journal of Biophotonics in May.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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