One of the most important things to monitor in patients who’ve sustained a severe blow to the head or a serious hemorrhage is pressure in the brain. This can reveal an increase in the brain’s volume, thanks to bleeding, swelling, or other factors, which can compress and damage brain tissue and starve the organ of blood. Increases in pressure have also been implicated in other, less critical neurological problems, such as migraines and repeated concussions. But current methods for monitoring intracranial pressure are highly invasive—a neurosurgeon drills a hole in the skull and inserts a catheter, which carries a risk of infection.
Thomas Heldt (former Hugh Hampton Young fellow), a research scientist at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, and collaborators Faisal Kashif and George Verghese, also at MIT, hope to change that with a new, noninvasive method for monitoring intracranial pressure. While the technology is still in its early stages of development, initial studies on data from comatose patients show that it is about as accurate as intracranial monitoring with a catheter and more accurate than other, less invasive options, which involve inserting a catheter into the tissue layers between the inner skull and the brain. Heldt presented the research at the Next-Generation Medical Electronic Systems workshop at MIT earlier this month. Continue reading the article in the MIT Technology Review.