Researchers use noninvasive optical imaging to peer inside the lungs of newborns

Researchers from the Lund University in Sweden are using near infrared spectroscopy to image oxygen concentrations in the lungs of newborns, a noninvasive technique that could be used to better monitor premature babies with underdeveloped lungs and ultimately increase survival rates. 

The optical technique, which also provides data in real time, is still being researched but has shown tremendous potential, according to Lund researcher Emilie Krite Svanberg.

"Today, the method requires one person to hold a measuring instrument against the baby's chest, while another sits by the computer, registering the results,” Svanberg told “Our goal is to simplify this technology. We hope that the measurements will be possible to perform automatically, by using small transmitters attached to the baby's chest. This would enable measuring the lung function continuously, in a way that is completely safe and that doesn't bother the child.” 

While initial trials were conducted on healthy newborns, the researchers hope to improve the system to enable clinical adoption for use on premature babies. 

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