Microwave system can aid early point-of-care diagnosis by showing localization and size of intracranial haemorrhage after stroke or trauma

-We believe that such information about localization and approximate size of bleedings, provided by the microwave device in a point-of-care situation, is an important development, says Mikael Elam. It can facilitate the clinical acceptance of a microwave-based diagnosis, by enabling a direct comparison to the clinical symptoms of the patient.   

Principles for microwave diagnostics of the skull/brain were developed at the Institute for Electrotechnology at Chalmers, by professor Mikael Persson and his research group focusing on biomedical electromagnetics. Clinical studies aiming to verify the technology and identify suitable clinical applications have been performed at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital / Sahlgrenska Academy, where Mikael Elam, professor and senior consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, has coordinated early clinical trials.

Initial studies focused on stroke patient, investigating the capacity of the microwave system to differentiate hemorrhagic from ischemic stroke. Two patient cohorts were investigated, resulting in a “proof-of-principle” publication in 2012. The project was subsequently extended to include also traumatic brain injury patients, where a second “proof-of-principle” study was published in 2017. Today, two multi-center trials are ongoing with patient inclusion planned until late 2019, collecting large cohorts of stroke and trauma cases. To recruit study patients in a hyper-acute clinical situation is always challenging, so these studies are expected to take time to finalize. Patients arriving at the hospital with an acute stroke or traumatic brain injury are scanned with the microwave device in conjunction with the clinical CT scan always performed on these patients. Participating hospitals are Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sundsvall Hospital, the university hospitals in Stavanger and Bergen in Norway, and the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia.

The microwave scan only takes a few minutes to perform and is non-invasive. The device emits microwaves with less than 1% of the intensity emitted by a mobile phone, making side effects of the investigation improbable.

 

Next step to show localization and size of hemorrhage

In parallel with ongoing clinical trials, signal analysis efforts are being made to enable localization and size of intracranial hemorrhages. The aim is to give clinicians a rough image, in addition to the hemorrhage indicator which today yields decision support to care givers. A microwave-based image will not give the amount of detail that x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging provides. In the video above, Mikael Elam illustrates the degree of image resolution.

-We believe that such information about localization and approximate size of bleedings, provided by the microwave device in a point-of-care situation, is an important development, says Mikael Elam. It can facilitate the clinical acceptance of a microwave-based diagnosis, by enabling a direct comparison to the clinical symptoms of the patient.

 

Text: Helene Lindström

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