by Michael Johns
, Project Manager | July 21, 2006
As reported on redherring.com:
Royal Philips Electronics said Wednesday it is working on a device for the U.S. Department of Defense that will employ ultrasound technology to detect internal bleeding in wounded soldiers and heal the damage on the battlefield.
The device, which Philips's research arm is developing with the University of Washington in Seattle, will be a cuff that can be wrapped around a soldier's arm or leg.
Using the ultrasound imaging technology commonly employed on pregnant women to display a fetus inside the womb, the cuff will be able to show the blood flow and if it is going outside the patient's blood vessels.
At high intensities, the cuff may be able to focus the beam enough to stem the blood flow by encouraging coagulation, allowing soldiers to be treated before they are taken to a hospital--potentially saving lives.
Philips and University of Washington researchers also see the device being used to treat civilians who are injured by bomb blasts, and to treat other types of patients who are injured in accidents.
`This is basically about saving a person's life in 10 or 15 minutes, or it doesn't work.'
-Dr. Lawrence Crum,
University of Washington
The device is being developed under a four-year medical technology project sponsored by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the same DOD agency that also helped develop the foundation of the Internet decades ago.
The University of Washington has been developing the ultrasound technology for about 12 years. Philips has long been involved in ultrasound and imaging technology, but it began working on this particular project about six months ago.
Philips is now trying to demonstrate the feasibility of the technology, according to Dr. Michael Pashley, research department head for ultrasound imaging and therapy at Philips Research. That phase will run for the next 12 months. If it's successful, Philips will continue working on the device.
"A major cause of death for people who suffer trauma accidents and for soldiers on the battlefield is internal bleeding," said Dr. Pashley. "It causes shock and blood loss, and loss of life before they can get treatment in a hospital."
DARPA wants the cuff to be made simple enough so it can be used on the battlefield by a medic or another soldier who doesn't necessarily need to be a trained physician.
Philips Applied Technologies in Houston, Pennsylvania, and San Jose, California, and Philips Medical Systems in Bothell, Washington, and Andover, Massachusetts, are working with 40 researchers at the university to produce such a device.