Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Brain Scan Technology Could Save Babies' Lives

Date:
December 28, 2005
Source:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Summary:
A revolutionary portable brain scanner under development could aid the treatment, and in some cases help save the lives, of premature and newborn babies in intensive care.

Scanning made simple – the new technology is designed to cause minimal disturbance to the baby.
Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A revolutionary portable brain scanner under development could aid the treatment, and in some cases help save the lives, of premature and newborn babies in intensive care.

By providing vital information about brain function at the cot side, the scanner avoids the need to move critically ill babies to conventional scanning facilities, which may involve sedating them and has a degree of risk. The data produced by the new scanner can be used to diagnose and assess conditions such as brain haemorrhages and brain damage, and to inform decisions on effective treatment options.

A prototype of the scanner, called MONSTIR, has been developed by researchers at UCL (University College London) with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Wellcome Trust. Now, also with EPSRC funding, the team are aiming to reduce the size of the scanner and improve its speed of operation.

Currently, there are two main ways of performing brain scans on small babies. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide data on brain function, but MRI scanners are large and static, and the baby may need to be sedated and wheeled to the scanner for the procedure to be carried out. The other alternative, ultrasound, can be performed at the cot side and is effective at revealing brain anatomy, but cannot show how the brain is actually functioning, e.g. in terms of oxygen supply and blood flow.

Combining the advantages of MRI and ultrasound but avoiding their disadvantages, MONSTIR, the first scanner of its kind in the world, uses an innovative technique called optical tomography to generate images showing how the brain is working. In optical tomography, light passes through body tissue and is then analysed by computer to provide information about the tissue.

A helmet incorporating 32 light detectors and 32 sources of completely safe, low-intensity laser light is placed on the baby's head. The sources produce short flashes and the detectors measure the amount of light that reaches them through the brain and the time the light takes to travel. A software package also developed with EPSRC funding uses this information to build up a 3D image. This can show which parts of the brain are receiving oxygen, where blood is situated, evidence of brain damage etc.

MONSTIR is the size of a fridge-freezer and takes around 8 minutes to generate an image. The aim is to produce a version that is half this size, 5 times faster, even more accurate and geared for clinical use. The potential use of the technology in breast imaging to aid cancer prevention and treatment is also being trialled.

Dr Adam Gibson is a key member of the multi-disciplinary MONSTIR team at UCL that includes medics, physiologists and mathematicians. He says: "The technology we're developing has the potential to produce high-quality images at the cot side and is also cheaper than MRI. It could make an important contribution to the care and treatment of critically ill babies. Scanners could be available commercially within a few years."



Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "New Brain Scan Technology Could Save Babies' Lives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051227105735.htm>.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. (2005, December 28). New Brain Scan Technology Could Save Babies' Lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051227105735.htm
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "New Brain Scan Technology Could Save Babies' Lives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051227105735.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins