New technology allows doctors to monitor blood during surgery


Light beam replaces blood test

You can now use light to monitor a surgical patient’s blood continuously,
thanks to the work of University of Central Florida scientist and professor
Aristide Dogariu. The technology provides a real-time status for the first time
by using an optical fiber to beam light through a patient’s blood and interpret
signals that are returned. In some
situations, this could eliminate the need for a doctor to wait while blood is
drawn and then tested, researchers say. 

Dr. William DeCampli, who is a
professor at the UCF College of Medicine and chief of pediatric cardiac surgery
at Arnold Palmer Hospital helped develop the technology, testing it during
surgery on infants. “I absolutely
see the technique having potential in the intensive care setting, where it can
be part of saving the lives of critically ill patients with all kinds of other
disorders,” he said.

In the course of surgery, a
patient’s blood can coagulate and clot very quickly, leaving physicians wary
because a clot can lead to stroke, pulmonary embolism, and a host of other
serious conditions. During cardiovascular surgery, coagulation is of special
concern because a clot can prevent the heart-lung machine from circulating a
patient’s blood. To prevent this, doctors often give medication that thins the
blood. Approximately every 30 minutes, blood is withdrawn and taken to a lab
for testing, which typically requires a minimum of 10 minutes. The process is
slow, preventing doctors from accessing the most up-to-date information in
lengthy surgeries. 

Dogariu, who is a Pegasus
Professor in UCF’s College of Optics and Photonics, wanted to speed up that
process. His machine beams light at the blood passing through the tube,
detecting light as it bounces back. According to
Nature Biomedical Engineering, the machine constantly interprets the light’s backscatter to determine how rapidly red blood
cells are vibrating. Coagulating blood vibrates slowly, requiring a blood

Dogariu’s technology lets
doctors know at the first sign of clotting, giving timely information as the
procedure progresses. “It provides continuous feedback for the surgeon to make
a decision on medication. That is what’s new. Continuous, real-time monitoring
is not available today. That is what our machine does, and in surgeries that
can last for hours, this information can be critical,” Dogariu said. 

DeCampli has tested the machine
during cardiac surgeries on ten infants
over the past year. “These things come about because of collaboration
between a top-ranked engineering university and a top-ranked children’s
hospital all in one city. I think it’s the perfect way to make advances in
medicine that are at the engineering frontiers.”

Decampli credits the UCF with
facilitating collaborations that spark innovation, without which he would never have partnered with Dogariu, who
researched the application of light-detection technology on more industrial
applications previously. 

Though a larger study is in the
works, the researcher’s proof-of-concept
study in available in a recently published paper. 

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