Could a ‘microwave helmet’ help evaluate head injuries?

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Results from a new study suggest the technology could improve triage accuracy.

Microwave technology (MWT) has previously been evaluated for a number of medical applications including the ability to differentiate between haemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, and now a new study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma  has found that it shows promise as a tool for improving triage accuracy in patients with traumatic brain injury.

As part of the study, 20 patients hospitalised with chronic subdural haematoma and 20 healthy volunteers, were all measured with a MWT device. Measurements were compared to traditional CT scans. At 100 per cent sensitivity, the specificity was 75 per cent with all haematomas detected at the cost of 25 per cent false positives.

“The result is very promising even though the study is small and only focused on one type of head injury. The microwave helmet could improve the medical assessment of traumatic head injuries even before the patient arrives at the hospital,” says Johan Ljungqvist, specialist in neurosurgery at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital . “The result indicates that the microwave measurements can be useful in ambulances and in other care settings.”

Further studies are underway to evaluate MWT in patients with other intracranial haemorrhages.

An estimated 10 million people are affected annually by traumatic brain injuries.

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