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article imageMonitoring heart health with tiny camera

By Tim Sandle     Sep 14, 2016 in Health
Amsterdam - Researchers have developed a new medical device that records absolute oxygen saturation of arterial blood. This is via a camera-based technology, which assesses tiny changes in skin color in order to complete a diagnosis.
Medical technologists are searching for new ways to monitor for health and health technology is one of the fastest growing sectors, either for home or for medical use. A new device in the medical field utilizes photo-optics.
Scientists working at the Dutch company Royal Philips have undertaken trials using a contactless monitoring medical device that is capable of detecting small variations in skin color. This data is then used to quantify blood oxygenation levels and for making a health assessment. The recording and interpretation of this information is a key process for making assessments in relation to heart health.
The device works through the use of a bespoke optical technology. Here a camera records the degree of light reflecting off of the forehead of a patient. Software then interprets the light and color pattern in order to calculate blood oxygenation levels.
The science behind the device is through the assessment of cardiovascular pressure waves. The waves relate to blood flow; the flow of blood causes tiny blushes to form in the facial skin of a patient, altering slightly with every heartbeat. In most cases these alternations in skin color are not discernible with the human eye. However, they can be detected and interpreted using advanced optics.
The device has a further advantage in that it can be calibrated or individual patients, where a variation in skin color may be significant to one patient but not to another. This places the device within the paradigm of personalized medicine.
A further advantage with the device is that it’s non-intrusive and causes no disruption to the patient. It is also fairly rapid, delivering a diagnosis in a matter of minutes.
Trials involving the device have been reported to journal Anesthesia & Analgesia. The research paper is “Calibration of Contactless Pulse Oximetry.”
Philips hope the technology will be incorporated as part of its new HealhSuite range of technologies, which include a health watch, connected scale, blood pressure monitor, and thermometer. In terms of data collection, Philips are making use of cloud based computing.
Expanding on this, a spokesperson for Philips, Carla Kriwet, told the website QMed: “Vital signs monitoring is crucial across all types of care settings. But for patient populations with specific conditions, managing their care in a less intrusive way is critical in order to avoid unnecessary distress.”
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