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Light touted as replacement for X-ray in examining lungs of babies

Update Date: Mar 25, 2016 02:57 AM EDT

Studies revealed that light was can be used to replace X-rays as a non-invasive method to observe lung function in premature babies.

Researchers from Sweden's Lund University who conducted the study say they can detect the presence of gases by calculating how long it takes for light to return after being aimed at an area, according to a reports by UPI.

The light measurement could detect if a baby's breathing is impeded and can help minimize the potential injury from reinflating collapsed parts of a lung or other treatments.

Since organs of premature babies, including lungs, have not fully developed, doctors need to monitor them for proper processing of oxygen after birth.

The study, was conducted in two parts, with 15 healthy, full-term babies evaluated using continuous-wave near-infrared spectroscopy, or CW-NIRS and 17 healthy, full-term babies evaluated using photon time-of-flight spectroscopy, or PTOFS.

Using light to measure oxygen held in blood cells, the researchers tested various wavelengths of light and found a beam of exactly 760.445 nanometers allows for a precise measure of oxygen in the lungs.

Researchers noted that X-ray technology can be imprecise and also exposes the babies to radiation that could lead to other health complications. The researchers were looking for form of monitoring that can be done continuously.

Emilie Krite Svanberg, a researcher at Lund University, noted that X-ray examinations increases the risk of developing cancer, News Medical noted. She added that their goal is to simplify the procedure, which is currently done by holding a measuring instrument against the baby's chest as another person registers the results in a computer.

The researchers said that they hope the measurements can be performed automatically, by using small transmitters attached to the baby's chest to enable measuring the lung function continuously.

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