Poker chip-sized device non-invasively measures brain temperature
By Ben Coxworth
May 6, 2011
Whether caused by strokes in seniors or hypoxia in newborn infants, brain injuries can cause the brain to overheat, which in turn causes its cells to die. While there are cooling therapies that can bring its temperature down, doctors first need to establish that the brain is indeed warmer than the rest of the patient's body. While doing so has previously involved invasive techniques, researchers from Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, Virginia have recently created a small device that sits on top of the patient's head, and measures their brain's temperature non-invasively.
The poker chip-sized device measures microwaves produced by the brain, that pass unimpeded through the skull. Those microwaves become more intense, the higher the temperature gets.
In a clinical trial, the device was used on infants undergoing cooling therapy at CHKD. Measuring temperatures 15 millimeters beneath their skulls, it was found that their brains were significantly warmer than the rest of their bodies – as observed through rectal and esophageal temperatures.
It is hoped that by being able to obtain precise readings so quickly and easily, the device will be able to make cooling therapy even more effective than it is already.