At the Sion Hospital in India a new device was being tested on a patient involved in a motor bike accident. He needs immediate attention as the doctor suspects head injury. There could be a blood clot which can lead the patient to disability or death.
The device the Dr. Alok Sharma is using is called the Infrascanner. This new invention is a portable imaging device which uses Near Infrared technology to detect bleeding in the brain or hematoma. In case of head injury where speed is the essence, this wonderful invention can help detect the clot and save a precious life.
In case of head injury the CAT scan is the usual diagnostic method for detecting bleeding in the brain. But this device is huge and expensive and is not available at many hospitals locally. Thus many head trauma cases are not treated quickly to save the human life.
This portable infrascanner makes possible speedy identification of bleeding in the head. This small device, just the size of a tin can is held near the patient's skull. In seconds it sends readings to the PDA or handheld computer wirelessly. It uses infrared light beams which enter the skull up to three centimeter. It detects clots based on the differential NIR light absorption of bleeding as opposed to non bleeding parts of the brain. The signals are then sent back to the scanner.
The new device showed that the patient had large clot. This was then confirmed by the CT scan. This shows that the reading by the new scanner is quite accurate. Dr Alok Sharma confirms that it has 98% accuracy.
The early detection helped save the patients life as the clot was washed away in time. Early detection is important as the clot can expand compressing the brain ultimately leading to death. The infrascanner is an excellent device for those patients who need specialist and rapid treatment.
According to Dr. Alok "It is awesome, especially since it's so easy to use. It is inexpensive compared to a CT scanner, it takes two minutes and it's completely non-invasive." It would be extremely useful in hospitals in small towns and villages where a CTscan is not available as it is very expensive. Being portable it can be taken to accident sites. In major accidents it can prioritize the patient requiring transport to a facility where there is neurosurgery capability.
The American Navy has invested up to a million dollars in the infrscanner as they see many benefits in the device. As it can be used in the Iraq war to save the lives of the soldiers. According to Mihir Shah from the company Infrascanner says "If you are on a ship or a submarine and someone has an accident it's a big decision to evacuate a patient - a handheld detector for haematomas would be priceless."
Though it can never take the place of the CT scanner it is an excellent and useful invention of medical technology.
Depending on further tests the doctors are waiting for its introduction in India.