Revolutionary head-scanning ultrasound technology may help diagnose brain injuries
A new form of ultrasound technology may help medical professionals spot bleeding in the brain. A group of experts at the University of Aberdeen are developing software that could enable battlefield medics to create 3 – D models of soldiers’ brains while they are on location. This can then be sent to an expert who can consequently make a swift and quite accurate diagnosis.
The project is being funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Centre for Defence Enterprise – part of the United Kingdom’s Ministry of defence.
Not only will this software be beneficial to those in the battlefield but also to civilian life. Paramedics will be able to record head ultrasound to diagnose brain hemmorrhage due to a stroke and other causes. If something as serious as bleeding in the brain can be spotted in advance then it significantly increases the chances of a patient surviving.
Internal bleeding and other damage caused by explosions or sever knocks can have a devastating long-term impact. If identified in advance, medical professionals can act to prevent said long-term damage from occurring by drilling holes in the skull to relieve the pressure or prescribing medication.
Dr. Leila Eadie, a researcher at the Centre for Rural Health at the University of Aberdeen, said: “There is a clear need for this technology, as outlined by Dstl. Traumatic brain injury [TBI] is a big problem for the military, especially because it can be difficult to spot in the field and if left untreated, it can have long-term effects.”
How the technology works
Medical professionals acquires an ultrasound image using existing hardware found in any hospital. However, this information is then captured using a movement sensor attached to an ultrasound probe. This enables the technology to scan the brain from certain points on the skill where the bone is the thinnest.
The probe can capture up to a whopping 40 images per second resulting in a 3-D image that can be built up from approximately 2 000 individual photos.
A medic with basic training in ultrasound will be able to produce as detailed a scan of the brain as possible with the software showing its user where it has already scanned the brain and where it still needs to scan.
Once the scan is complete, the information can be sent to an expert for analysis and an educated diagnosis. The technology is still as a fairly early stage of development but have been tested on real hospital patients.
The key to diagnosing and saving an emergency situation has always been early detection. This is quite an extraordinary development in the medical world and could lead to many lives being saved.