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Device to test jaundice, anaemia and oxygen saturation in 0.5 secs without a needle-prick

A Kolkata-based scientist has developed a technology based on the principle of spectrometry that uses the wavelength of the reflection of white light to determine the levels of bilirubin and red blood cells to diagnose disease.

health Updated: Aug 01, 2017 17:52 IST
Jaundice,Anaemia,oxygen saturation
Dr SK Pal has developed a technology that will test for jaundice, anaemia and lack of oxygen in just 0.5 seconds .(Dr SK Pal)

New Delhi: An Indian scientist has developed a technology which will allow doctors to test for jaundice, anaemia and lack of oxygen in just 0.5 seconds and without a needle prick.

The device uses principles of spectrometry to beam white light on the patient and the frequency of light waves that are reflected back help determine whether the person has jaundice, anaemia and hypoxia.

“It is a non-contact device and just takes 0.5 seconds to test for the three parameters and is really useful in drawing blood in newborns because their veins are not pronounced. This will help doctors monitor the condition of newborns, especially those suffering from jaundice, without needle pricks,” said Dr Samir Kumar Pal, professor in the department of chemical, biological and molecular sciences at Kolkata’s SN Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, who has developed the technology.

The device reads the light reflected back from the body of the patient . It reads the bilirubin count, which determines whether one has jaundice, by determining the amount of missing yellow light. In case of anaemia, more green light would be reflected back if the amount of red blood cells is less.

To calculate hypoxia or lack of oxygen, the device looks at the ratio of two wavelengths lying in the green region of the spectrum of light.

Clinical application has been tested at Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College in Kolkata to compare its results with the traditional tests. “It was found to be much more accurate that the current blood tests. The variation is between 15-18% when a blood test is repeated multiple times in the same subject at the same time as compared to a variation of less than 10% in case of the spectrometry device,” said Dr Pal.

“The device, which will cost around 3 lakh, will be a one-time investment that can be used for up to 10 years. There is no recurring cost -- such as buying chemical compounds and glassware -- needed for the traditional blood tests. It can do 500 tests per day and the report can also be given then and there, which makes it ideal for government hospitals that have huge patient load,” said Dr Pal.

Despite the benefits of the new technology, Dr Pal has been unable to woo Indian medical device manufacturers to make it on a large scale. “I am applying for an international patent now, hoping that would make it lucrative for the manufacturers,” he said.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 17:52 IST