A new technology developed at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando, Florida (US), uses an optical fiber to beam light through a surgical patient’s blood and interpret the signals that bounce back, for the first time providing continuous, real-time critical patient status during operations.
“Anticoagulant and thrombolytic therapy are widely used in the operating rooms to reduce the risk of clotting and to treat thrombosis events,” says Dr Aristide Dogariu, UCF Pegasus professor of optics and photonics. “Because patients often respond differently to identical anticoagulants, there is a need for monitoring the blood condition before, during and after the surgical procedure.”
Current procedures, the professor explains, require repeated withdrawal and therefore can only be performed every 20 to 30 minutes. “What is needed are approaches that do not require specific sample collection and involved preparation such that information is provided continuously.”
“Our experimental approach takes advantage of the three-dimensional structuring of the coherence properties of light to perform simultaneous sampling over picoliter-size volumes at different spatial locations,” Dogariu says. “We developed a robust implementation of a fiber-optic-based multimode common-path interferometer.”
The expert illustrates that the endoscopic nature of the measurement allows the sensor to be incorporated directly into standard vascular-access devices in medical equipment, with minimal modifications.
A game-changer for hospitals
Talking about the aspects that are truly new and unique about this technology and that had not been achieved before, the optics and photonics professor affirms, “The real-time and continuous feedback provided constitutes a game-changer for the management of blood condition during, for instance, surgery or post-operative stages.”
He points out that the novel approach is not based on end-point measurements and that the continuous real-time information helps the medical team to better manage the anticoagulant and thrombolytic therapy.
Impact on future light-based medical testing and monitoring
The professor confirms that in clinical practice, the proposed optical real-time blood coagulability monitoring instrument could eliminate unnecessary operational delays while facilitating decision-making on initiation and maintenance of thrombolytic therapy. What is more, a ruggedized version of such optical instrumentation could one day be used in the field by first responders.
Dogariu and his colleagues now intend to extend this preliminary study and examine the technique in other settings, such as adult cardiac surgery, where the potential volume of application and impact of therapies are much greater.
The research is reported in the paper “Real-time intraoperative monitoring of blood coagulability via coherence-gated light scattering," published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Written by Sandra Henderson, Research Editor Novus Light Technologies Today