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Health Spotlight: Real-time blood monitor

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 20 thousand babies are born needing open heart surgery. These complex procedures are a lifeline for children with congenital heart defects. Many of these surgeries can take up to 12 hours. Now, one surgeon has developed something that could transform the field of heart surgeries not only for babies, but adults, too.

Blood is taken throughout an open heart surgery so it can be tested for coagulation.
Getting results from the lab can take 20 to 30 minutes.

This issue is especially critical for the youngest patients who are more susceptible to complications.

But now, surgeons have a new tool – a real-time blood monitor. It can provide instant blood analysis by using a tiny optical fiber inserted directly into the heart-lung machine.

“The light is transmitted along a very tiny optical fiber,” said Dr. William DeCampli of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “That same optical fiber receives the signal that comes from the red blood cells as the light literally reflects off it.”

Results from the first clinical trial showed the real-time monitor was just as accurate as sending the samples to the lab.

If more studies prove its effectiveness, the real-time blood monitor could be a gamechanger, and life-saver in the operating room.

Researchers also believe the real-time blood monitor could be used not only for heart surgeries, but for trauma patients, and even COVID-19 patients. The team’s next clinical trial will focus on pediatric patients, with plans to expand to adult trials. If all goes well, they hope to make the blood monitor available to all hospitals within the next few years.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.