A Philly tech company readies its brain scanner for the battlefield
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
A Philadelphia tech company will work with the U.S. Marine Corps to develop a portable brain scan device for the battlefield. Developers say the hand-held scanner can detect internal bleeding in the brain during the critical minutes after a traumatic head injury.
InfraScan CEO Baruch Ben Dor says pressure from pooled blood cuts off the brain's oxygen supply and can kill someone within an hour or two.
Ben Dor: The whole idea of the Infrascanner is to catch brain bleeding developing in the field and to make sure that this patient is evacuated fast to a hospital that will have a CAT scan and a neurosurgeon on staff that will be able to make a positive diagnosis, surgery on the spot.
Ben Dor says right now battlefield doctors rely on testing reflexes and a soldier's alertness to detect a bleed.
InfraScan's two-year, two-million dollar contract with the Marines is a deal to develop a more rugged, battle-ready version of its existing scanner.
The scanner, which uses near infrared light similar to your TV remote control, is approved for hospitals and ambulance use in Europe, but it has not cleared regulatory hurdles in the United States.
Brain injury expert Dr. Todd Lewis hasn't examined the technology but says a portable device could have many uses off the battlefield.
Lewis: Rather than having to have to send the patient out to acute care, which is extremely costly and also results in an interruption in the individual's rehabilitation, it might be something that could be done right on site. The other issue is to reduce the risk of radiation exposure from CAT scans if there were a need to utilize a device like this, initially, and then if there's a need for follow-up, then use the CAT scan.
Lewis is a neuropsychologist at the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.
He says, to be truly useful, the new technology will have to accurately detect early-stage and slow brain bleeds.