MedTech West researchers´ article reviewed in leading scientific journal within patient care in the prehospital setting

stefan1The article Microwave technology for detecting traumatic intracranial bleedings: Tests on phantom of subdural hematoma and numerical simulations published in October 2016 in Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing was selected for “Research Review – What current studies mean to EMS” in the scientific journal JEMS (Journal of Emergency Medical Services). JEMS is known to being the leading providers of information for the improvement of patient care in the prehospital setting.

The study was conducted by Stefan Candefjord, Johan Winges, A.A, Malik, Yinan Yu, Thomas Rylander, Tomas McKelvey, Andreas Fhager, Mikael Elam and Mikael Persson. Except for Mikael Elam, who is from the department of Clinical Neuroscience at Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital, all authors are from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers. Stefan Candefjord, Tomas McKelvey, Andreas Fhager, Mikael Elam and Mikael Persson are also researchers at MedTech West.

In the reviewed study, Stefan Candefjord and his colleagues simulated a subdural hematoma by putting blood in a human cranium with agar brain to evaluate if a headset equipped with microwave technology (MWT) could detect it. In addition, numerical simulations mimicking anatomical differences among patients were performed. The study showed that MWT had high sensitivity and specificity in detecting the presence of subdural hematoma.

The backgrund to the study is that trauma patients in general and high-risk individuals in particular, such as the elderly or those on anticoagulant therapy, may suffer from a subdural hematoma and present with little or no symptoms. Mortality is high for patients with subdural hematomas, and early detection and transport to a facility with neurosurgical capability has potential to increase survival. The study was part of a project with aim to improve prehospital diagnostics for road traffic injuries, a collaboration between Department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers, SAFER Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre at Chalmers and MedTech West.

The results were also discussed in a podcast in the Prehospital Care Research Forum (link below). I´m asking first author Stefan Candefjord, researcher at MedTech West and Chalmers, a few questions about the reviewed study:

What does the study add to the research field?
– It shows that microwave technology is a new diagnostic method that potentially can assist EMS in detecting intracranial bleeding in the future.

How was the study conducted?
– A human cranium was filled with phantom brain and blood to simulate a subdural hematoma, says Stefan Candefjord. A helmet outfitted with 12 microwave antennas was then used to detect the presence of the simulated hematoma. Furthermore, numerical simulations mimicking anatomical differences among patients were performed to see if different size hematomas could be detected. The MWT had high sensitivity and specificity in detecting the presence of subdural hematoma.

What does it mean that JEMS selected the article for review?
– We are enthused that one of the leading journals in prehospital care recognizes the potential of our method to assist EMS crew in detecting intracranial bleedings. We think it’s important to spread awareness of new methods for prehospital diagnosis to the EMS community, and the JEMS review and the related podcast in the Prehospital Care Research Forum are therefore very valuable.

So, what will happen next?
– Although the results are very promising, it’s too early to introduce the technology in clinical standard of care, says Stefan Candefjord. The first clinical trial was recently completed and published in Journal of Neurotrauma and follow-up clinical trials are conducted in collaboration with the manufacturer Medfield Diagnostics AB, which could lead to the development of a product that would be available for EMS crews to better assess patients with suspected hematomas and TBI.

The reviewed article:

Candefjord S, Winges J, Malik AA, et al. Microwave technology for detecting traumatic intracranial bleedings: Tests on phantom of subdural hematoma and numerical simulations. Med Biol Eng Comput, 2016. Doi: 10.1007/s11517-016-1578-6

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Text: Helene Lindström