A head patch worn on the brow has been found promising in non-invasively monitoring blood oxygen among stroke patients.
This device, known as frontal near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), could offer hospital physicians a safe and low-cost way to monitor strokes in real time, suggests a study.
A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain.
"About one-third of stroke patients in the hospital suffer another stroke, and we have few options for constantly monitoring patients for such recurrences," says senior study investigator William Freeman, associate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic, the journal Neurosurgical Focus reports.
Currently, nurses monitor patients for new strokes and if one is suspected, patients must be moved to a hospital's radiology unit for a test known as a CT perfusion scan, which is the standard way to measure blood flow and oxygenation, according to a Mayo statement.
The entire procedure can sometimes cause side-effects such as excess radiation exposure if repeated scans are required. Also, potential kidney and airway damage can result from the contrast medium.
Alternately, for the sickest patients, physicians can insert an oxygen probe inside the brain to measure blood and oxygen flow, but this procedure is invasive and measures only a limited brain region, Freeman says.
"We plan to study this device more extensively and hope that this bedside tool offers significant benefit to patients by helping physicians detect strokes earlier and manage recovery better," he says.
This NIRS device, which emits near-infrared light that penetrates the scalp and underlying brain tissue, has been used in animals to study brain blood.