At The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, neurosurgeon Raj Narayan, MD, and electrical engineer Chunyan Li, PhD, have been collaborating with scientists at the University of Cincinnati since 2008 on the development of what they anticipate will be the next generation of brain monitoring devices. Their “lab-on- a-tube” is a catheter system packed with multiple miniaturized sensors that allow for real-time continuous in vivo monitoring of such critical parameters as brain tissue oxygen, blood flow, intracranial pressure, temperature, EEG and brain chemistry.
Using microelectromechanical (MEMS) technology, their smart catheter is compact, simple to use and highly accurate. It includes sensors both inside the tube and outside, so in addition to measures taken from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by its interior sensors, the outer sensors can transmit data about the condition of the injured brain tissue immediately surrounding the catheter.
Progress toward a clinically-ready device took a great step forward in 2010 when the US Department of Defense provided $5 million towards the research, in recognition of the smart catheter’s potential to improve outcomes for soldiers suffering TBI in combat. The grant is shared by Dr. Narayan and Dr. Li at North Shore-LIJ and their colleagues at the University of Cincinnati.
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