ARLINGTON, Va. Battlefield corpsmen and medical professionals across the country gained a valuable tool last week, as the Food and Drug Administration approved the first hand-held device to detect life-threatening bleeding in the brain.
Research on the unit, called the Infrascanner, was initiated and funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
The portable, battery-powered medical device reveals intracranial hematomas soon after an injury, and could be a lifesaver for Sailors and Marines injured at sea or on battlefields far from the diagnostic machines available in hospitals.
Experts say early detection of brain trauma is essential.
"When a brain injury occurs, every moment without an accurate assessment can determine a person's risk" of severe injury or death due to a brain bleed, said Theresa Rankin, a traumatic brain injury survivor who works with Brain Injury Services.
The Infrascanner could be a particular boon to the Department of the Navy (DON), as heavy computed tomography (CT) machines are not normally carried aboard ships in the frigate or destroyer class, or in the field with the Marine Corps.
"Naval warfighters, on ship or land, may be a great distance away from any definitive medical care," said Dr. Michael Given, ONR's program manager for expeditionary medicine, combat casualty care. "So something like this could be very useful, almost essential."
The device is designed for quick and easy use.
"You can do the whole scan in a minute or so," said Given. "We tried to make it simple. Just a red-green lighted spot kind of display. So red, you're in trouble; green, everything's great. There are three sizes of red dots so you can tell if the bleeding is progressing. Simple and effective."
Warfighters diagnosed with hematoma would be immediately sent to advanced medical facilities.
The Infrascanner detects near-infrared light that penetrates into the skull. Pooled
|Contact: Tammy White|
Office of Naval Research