Measurement of vital parameters is not always possible during an emergency medical intervention. Victims are often uncooperative, spaces are uncomfortable and the equipment one can carry very limited – just think of a rescue helicopter or the scene of a car accident.
Eurac Research, in collaboration with the companies Minnova Med and Kerr Srl, has patented a space-saving, non-invasive and easy-to-use instrument that measures both core temperature and oxygen saturation and heartbeat† It looks like a headset for listening to music and uses sensors placed in the external ear canal† It has been tested in the terraXcube extreme environment simulator, at temperatures from -10 to 20 °C.
In emergencies, as when the victim is suspected to be hypothermic, it is essential to know their core temperature as accurately as possible for proper triage, but this information is not always easy to obtain – current thermometers are not accurate enough, especially in harsh environmental conditions, and the probes used in hospitals, for example an esophageal probe, cannot be inserted into the field. When the Eurac Research team, at the initiative of Hermann Brugger and Giacomo Strapazzon, supported by the technical expertise of the South Tyrolean companies Minnova Med, represented by Michaela Egebrecht, and Kerr Srl, represented by Andrea Stona, came up with MedSENS – the measuring instrument several vital parameters of the ear canal – they had exactly this scenario in mind.
“Also thanks to the experience of some of us in mountain rescue and emergency servicewe knew we wanted a non-invasive and easy-to-use instrument that combined temperature measurement with oxygen saturation measurement,” recalls Michela Masè, a physicist and researcher at Eurac Research. “There are already devices on the market that can be placed in the ear, but they are too sensitive to outside temperature and therefore not reliable, so that’s what we went for.”
MedSENS consists of an earplug-sized probe containing innovative measurement sensors; the rescuer pushes it into the victim’s ear, then covers it with an outer ear cushion that insulates against heat and cold and features a small screen that displays the measured values in real time. The data can then be sent wirelessly to any other device connected by rescue teams.
The instrument has been tested for over a year and has undergone numerous adjustments.
Two rounds of experimentation took place in the terraXcube extreme environment simulator. A total of 40 people were involved, including students pursuing their International Master’s Degree in Mountain Emergency Medicine. During simulations of interventions between -10 and 20 °C, rescue workers had to apply the device; the “victims” were followed by both MedSENS and a traditional esophageal tube previously inserted into the ambulatory.
“Our tests had a dual purpose,” explains Alessandro Micarelli, an otolaryngologist and researcher at Eurac Research. “On the one hand to test whether the use of the instrument was easy, even with, for example, hands affected by the biting cold; on the other hand to check whether the MedSENS measurements corresponded to those of the depth probes placed earlier.”
After passing all the tests, the prototype is now patented and the group is looking for partners interested in large-scale production and commercialization.
“I hope this will happen as soon as possible: MedSENS, which was created with rescue in extreme contexts in mind, could in fact also become a very useful tool in hospital practice, I think especially for use in operating rooms,” says Giacomo Strapazzon, chief of the Institute for Mountain Emergency Medicine at Eurac Research. “And we are all the more proud of this patent because it is the result of a fruitful collaboration between our research center, companies and the NOI Techpark.”
Provided by Eurac Research
Quote: Device to measure temperature and other vital measurements of the ear canal (2022, June 29) retrieved June 29, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-device-temperature-vital-ear-canal.html
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