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Cheap Blood Clot Detection Device

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the but-wear-your-helmet dept.

Biotech 103

Gearoid_Murphy writes "The BBC details the news of a cheap handheld device to detect blood clots on the surface of the brain. The device uses infrared light to penetrate 3 cm into the body; light that has passed through clotted blood changes detectably. A doctor who is testing the device in India said, 'We found a 98% accuracy for showing blood clots or haematomas.'"

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Woah.. (4, Insightful)

Thyrteen (1084963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745883)

I have a feeling that some surgeons will be sleeping alot better post-operation when they can monitor something like this more effectively.

Re:Woah.. (0, Troll)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746021)

Surgeons will go for the CT scan every time. It costs more.

Re:Woah.. (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746125)

Surgeons will go for the CT scan every time. It costs more.

And provides a lot more information than this handheld gadget can. Given a choice, I'd opt for some real imaging rather than a high-tech studfinder.

Re:Woah.. (5, Insightful)

Thyrteen (1084963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746161)

Although the CT Scan would be useful, you need to remember. Your friend has a brain tumor. They operate, and remove it successfully, and close the opening. At this point, you wait, and pray that there's no clotting. Perhaps if this probe could be attached (I don't see why not), for a night after surgery, if clotting starts, the surgeon could get a much faster start on the patient, rather than waiting for "symptoms" to occur. A CT Scan can be useful in determining a problem, but the constant monitoring is useful for a separate scenario.

Re:Woah.. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746197)

Very true ... kind of like the Holter and cardiac event monitors they use for heart patients.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Thyrteen (1084963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746241)

Yeah, not as mission-critical, but veerry helpful in just keeping closer watch on common mishaps that occur afterwards.

Re:Woah.. (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746411)

The article refers to trauma and boring relief holes into skulls. Brain tumor surgery, except on TV, is not performed absent CT scans.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747539)

So they actually do trepanning in England?

Re:Woah.. (3, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748123)

Well, India, rather than England but if it does the job... Heck in the UK they still use leeches c/o the NHS and it's not uncommon to use maggots on badly infected wounds because they eat the bad stuff and leave the good stuff far better than any other treatments. Just because something sounds medieval, don't write it off.

Re:Woah.. (1)

valdezjuan (83925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18755997)

As the parent for my reply indicates, maggots are still used extensively in the UK and in US hospitals. Maggots eat dead tissue, and only dead tissue. They are perfectly suited for treating extensive infections and a few other conditions. In fact it appears that there use is very common:
From Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggot_therapy [wikipedia.org]

The current use of maggot therapy is estimated to involve over 3,000 doctors, clinics, and hospitals in over 20 countries. In 2003, approximately 30,000 treatments were administered to an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 patients.

As for leaches, the FDA allowed there use (as a medical device) in 2004: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5319129/ [msn.com] . Which goes to show, everything old is new, and everything new is old. In some cases, the medieval 'doctors' (and I use that word with some hesitation), got the treatment right (though they had no idea why). So as my parent post says, don't discount a treatment because it is old, and seems archaic.

Re:Woah.. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18760565)

Not all maggots are so selective ... you have to be pretty specific in the variety.

From National Geographic:

Only a few species of fly larvae, primarily blowflies, are suitable for such duty. Five to ten maggots are placed on each square centimeter (0.2 square inch) of a wound, which is then covered with a protective dressing that allows the maggots to breath. For the next 48 to 72 hours, the maggots dissolve dead tissue by secreting digestive juices and then ingesting the liquefied tissue and bacteria. The maggots grow from about two millimeters (0.08 inch) to nearly ten millimeters (0.4 inch) while doing the doctor's dirty work.

I dunno. I think I'd have to be pretty screwed up to go for that.

Re:Woah.. (1)

valdezjuan (83925) | more than 7 years ago | (#18769763)

Hell yah. I wouldn't recommend maggots for everything. I think they use them heavily in severe burn victims to clean out the bacteria and dead tissue. I have also seen them packed in wounds, but it usually takes some convincing, since a lot of patients are kinda freaked out about it (and really, who can blame them).

If I remember the wiki article, the FDA has certain rules regarding how the maggots are raised and which type are used. It looks like the FDA approved their use (as a medical device) in 2004, but the doctor that is 'quoted' as reintroducing the therapy in 1989 (Dr. Ronald Sherman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggot_therapy#Recent _clinical_experience [wikipedia.org] ) uses a strain of the green bottle fly (Phaenicia sericata http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaenicia_sericata [wikipedia.org] ).

I guess I wouldn't want just any maggot eating my tissue either.

Errr... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746649)

I don't entirely agree...

Aside from the fact that a lot of the time, we're more worried about post-op *bleeding* (which we'd see on CT) than simple clotting, I'm not sure how you'd tell appropriate clotting from dangerous clot, *except* through monitoring symptoms. Its not the clots after surgery that are dangerous, but when the clots are in areas that suffocate healthy tissue (ischemia).

And a CT looking for new infarct would be useless. An MRI might help, but not a CT.

And, yes, IAAD.

Re:Errr... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18747535)

I don't see how you being a dentist has anything to do with this!

Re:Woah.. (1)

wazza (16772) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748335)

Something I found recently among the docs our radiology department gives to new registrars, regarding how they request for scans:

"Remember the impact of patient dose.

CT brain + CT chest + CD abdomen + CT pelvis = 1250 chest X-rays"

I work in stroke ultrasound, and our patients often have at least two CTs during their stay. That's a *lot* of x-ray energy.

(CTs tend to have their output parameters stamped on them... our machine is generally set between 25 and 45 kW, with about a 50% duty cycle. That's a heck of a lot of juice flowing into ya...)

Makes me feel better when performing TCDs on people! (Transcranial Doppler is one other method of detecting blood clots & stenoses, although we aim for deeper, larger arteries - it's hard to get signals closer than 30-35 mm from the surface of the scalp.)

Re:Woah.. (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748365)

And with that, the case for the new device rests.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748509)

"Remember the impact of patient dose. CT brain + CT chest + CD abdomen + CT pelvis = 1250 chest X-rays"

That's a fairly unfair comparison, since I believe that it factors in the radiation sensitivity of various areas of the body. Head and chest aren't very sensitive, but abdomen (especially the intestine) and pelvis (lots of bone marrow there) are.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18763489)

Yes, but even if CT brain + CT chest only equalled 250 chest X-rays, that's still quite a few X-rays.
Also, if I remember correctly, they sometimes inject stuff into patients taking CT brain to make those CT scans more sensitive. That would level the difference between CT brain and CT abdomen some, esp. if that injection is itself radioactive.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18764185)

Yes, but even if CT brain + CT chest only equalled 250 chest X-rays, that's still quite a few X-rays.



It's even less than that. The abdomen and the pelvis are much, much more radiation-sensitive than the chest or the head.



Also, if I remember correctly, they sometimes inject stuff into patients taking CT brain to make those CT scans more sensitive. That would level the difference between CT brain and CT abdomen some, esp. if that injection is itself radioactive.



Um, sorry, but you've go things mixed up there quite a bit.


The contrast agent isn't radioactive (that wouldn't make sense and, in the worst case, would create noise in the the actual measurements). Instead, it is more opaque to x-rays than regular tissue. Depending on the type of the agent, this effect can be used to make blood vessels show up (if the agent stays in the blood), or certain kinds of tumors and lesions, or the intestine (if it is ingested and never enters the bloodstream).


Radioactive agents are used in therapy or for PET and SPECT scans, which are completely different types of imaging technique.

Re:Woah.. (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746481)

The wait for a CT scan could be too long. There can be far more of these devices than CT scanners.

This will help determine if patients need immediate attention.

As long as the false positive rates aren't high and this device is sensitive enough to detect the common cases, it will be useful.

Re:Woah.. (3, Insightful)

Silver Gryphon (928672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746501)

Since the CT scan is expensive, time consuming and often has an hour-long wait even in emergency rooms, they now use the CT scan only if they are fairly certain there's a problem and are often discouraged from doing more than one a day on a single patient. A device like this could be used like the O2 Saturation monitors or cardiac monitors: preventative, non-invasive and don't require scheduling of the million-dollar equipment.

I can see this tech being used some day to detect clots in legs, arms, etc.

Re:Woah.. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747133)

What are the running costs like on a CT machine? If the thing has a high utilization anyway then it's a moot point, but if the ROI depends on how much it gets used, wouldn't it make sense to use it as much as possible? Of course if it costs an extra 100k or something per scan then it isn't such a sensible idea...

Re:Woah.. (1)

Inthewire (521207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747627)

Had one about six weeks ago. Cost...something like seven grand, including scan, interpretation, etc.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747841)

Had one about six weeks ago. Cost...something like seven grand, including scan, interpretation, etc.



Was that in the US ? If so, then maybe the insurance companies over there should think about sending the less urgent cases on an all-expenses-paid vacation to Europe that includes the MRI scan. It'd save them a whole lot of money. Maybe they can even include a business class flight, too.

Re:Woah.. (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748135)

Yup - I had a CT scan a couple of years ago - the bill was ISTR about £800.

Re:Woah.. (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748375)

>Yup - I had a CT scan a couple of years ago - the bill was ISTR about £800.
Sorry, I was talking rubbish, it was an MRI scan. Great fun though. Loved the noises it makes - would be a great industrial style CD release. The operator told me it reminded her of Einstürzende Neubauten which sounded a fair comparison.

Re:Woah.. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748557)

Sorry, I was talking rubbish, it was an MRI scan. Great fun though.

It was more exciting 23 years ago, when being able to have a look at the room-filling computer and the operating panel was reward enough for a loud and boring three-and-a-half hours long procedure.

I asked how much memory the computer had, and the answer was "Many hundreds of megabytes". Needless to say, I was impressed, having known only 8-bit home computers.

Star Treknology (1)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746111)

Increasingly, actual technology is converging toward technology fantasized by Gene Roddenberry. This scanner for blood clots resembles the tricorder often used by Dr. McCoy or Mr. Spock.

What's next? Warp drive [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Star Treknology (1)

micknz (813240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746759)

Increasingly, actual technology is converging toward technology fantasized by Gene Roddenberry. This scanner for blood clots resembles the tricorder often used by Dr. McCoy or Mr. Spock.
Hey, isn't it true sci-fi comes up with what science goes on to create?

Re:Star Treknology (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747183)

> Hey, isn't it true sci-fi comes up with what science goes on to create?

I don't think so, though I'm usually wrong. Engineers (try to) create things; scientists (try to) explain things.

Re:Star Treknology (1)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747579)

Hey, isn't it true sci-fi comes up with what science goes on to create?
I'll believe you when we're flying X-Wings around. Plenty of "true" scifi bends basic rules of the universe (speed of light for one) that scientists are (pretty darned) sure are more or less immutable.

Re:Star Treknology (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747551)

Let's hope this thing works like McCoy's medical tricorder, rather than Dr. Beverly Crusher's.

Re:Star Treknology (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18749475)

No, then it would always flash "He's dead, Jim!" if the patient is wearing a red shirt.

Re:Star Treknology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18769047)

So only geeks would be safe, because they know not to be the one wearing the red shirt?

Open Source Medical Equipment (0)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748037)

The article describes what seems to be an AC/DC coupled photoplethysmograph (PPG). However I am having a hard time believing that an infra-red signal can penetrate three centimeters through the skull, reflect off a blood clot, and be detected again. I recently worked at a company that made PPG devices that put an infra-red diode against the skin and then used a photo-detector to sense blood volume changes according to the amount of IR radiation that got reflected.

  The product that I worked with was a kluge from the late 1970s. All that company's technology was based on simple op-amps, TTL chips, resistors and capacitors hand-stuffed into through-hole PCBs. I got fired for incessantly insisting that they bring their technology up to 21st century standards. They said that there was no money (they wouldn't even let us buy a vacuum desoldering station), but the 80-year-old owner was constantly giving away millions of dollars to ultra-conservative local politicians. And lecturing his employees about how cancer could be cured by positive mental attitude.

    Anyway, a lot of what passes for 'advanced' medical equipment in the US is actually kludged ancient technology. It sells for absurd amounts of money because of the bizarre 'cost-is-no-object' state of the American Health Care industry. And a lot of people are beginning to be denied basic medical care because they don't have the money to pay for it. But a lot of medical tests could be done with inexpensive high-tech equipment that has been modified for home medical use.

This concept of an inexpensive device that uses state-of-the-art technology is a good place to bring up the subject of open source biomedical devices. There may come an underground movement to build very high-tech medical equipment cheaply for people like us. Equipment that surpasses the quality of what is found in ordinary hospitals, but costs one tenth of the price. It would have no FDA certification, and would be quite illegal. No accredited doctor would use it.

  But when you have no medical insurance (or you are paying $300 a month for it and have a $3000 deductable, which is the same thing as having no realistic medical care available), then the choice of paying $1500 for a medical test with FDA certified equipment and paying $50 for the same test to someone who has non-FDA-certified equipment really isn't any choice at all. Of course, if you do have a great job where all your medical expenses are covered and the insurance company picks up the tab for your $1500 test (and charges you a $20 co-payment fee), well then yes, you would be aghast at even the idea that someone would submit to a medical test without the most expensive possible equipment.

    But chances are that you're not one of those people. So the idea of open-source medical equipment doesn't repulse you.

    The difference between open source software and open source medical equipment would be that the medical equipment would be illegal. And the people doing the test and interpreting the results would be subject to arrest for practicing medicine without a license. But in many cases, the test results are just electronic data and can be analyzed by computer to give same level of professionalism as found in the hospital. And again as millions of middle class people find themselves shut out from licensed health care due to the collapse of the insatiable greed of the health care industry, more and more people will be willing to accept and trust the data from an unlicensed high-tech medical device that costs a tiny fraction of the same machine in a for-profit medical facility. There's nothing holy about the medical industry.

    The electronic medical equipment industry in the USA is in about the same place as the US automobile industry was in early 1970's. Obsessed with trivial regulations, smug in their belief in their omnipresent power, and completely unaware that they are about to get totally blindsided by people who can do the job much cheaper and much better.

    Open source medical equipment is where the electronic designs, software, and diagnostic skills are completely and freely available to anyone who wants to build this piece of equipment for their own use. It will probably happen first in the developing world where this kind of equipment is not so illegal as it is in the West. Note from the article above that the tests of this handheld head scanner were being done in India. But it is coming here, it may take a long time though.

To stem the statistical comments: (4, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745903)

Inevitably someone is going to say "Well yeah, that means 2% died. Rough lot of good that did them."

Before that person is you, think of the 98% that lived. I bet they're pretty happy that their chances of detection and survival went way up. And if you were sitting on an operating table in rural India with a poorly underfunded doctor wondering what's going wrong with you, wouldn't you like to take those odds too?

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (5, Insightful)

pytheron (443963) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746101)

To put statistics into perspective, you need to consider the following (for arguments sake).
Say 98% lived with this new tech. What percentage lived without it ? Maybe 94%. You can't infer that the previous methods of detection/avoidance were mediocre just because the new method has a high success rate. The article certainly gives no comparisons.

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (4, Interesting)

Repton (60818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746255)

I'd also be interested in the false positive / false negative rates, and the overall rate of blood clots.

Eg, suppose 1 in 10 patients develop blood clots under some circumstances. You could get a 90% accuracy by making a device that just reports "No clots" every time. If you're classifying 98% of clots as clots and 98% of nonclots as nonclots, over 1000 tests you'll have 98 blood clots correctly identified, 2 missed, and 18 nonclots misclassified as clots..

(obviously I have no idea what the true rate of blood clots is)

Of course, the engineers who made the device and the scientists who test it almost certainly know all this, so I'm not being particularly insightful. If they call it a breakthrough or think it will be useful, then they're probably right. We just can't tell either way from the article...

("Mainstream news article lacks useful details: film at 11!")

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (1)

linatux (63153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747173)

& 87% were caused by UV Radiation?!

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (1)

jstott (212041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18750801)

I'd also be interested in the false positive / false negative rates, ...

Of course, the engineers who made the device and the scientists who test it almost certainly know all this, so I'm not being particularly insightful.

I used to work in the field of diffuse optical tomography (DOT) and I'd like to know the false positive rate is too. It's a chronic problem in DOT, distinguishing between real blood pooling and generic signal clutter. 3cm is also very deep in the brain for DOT; we used to figure we could scan no more than the top 1cm of brain matter (remember, you have to get the light through the skull twice, once going in and once coming out, and brain tissue is highly absorbing in the near-IR as well).

The scientists on whose work this is based all know and understand these problems (I know some of the guys personally), but reading the marketing fluff, I'm not sure the company or the MD's do. As others have noted, it's easy to get a 98% success rate if you're willing to put up with 9 out of 10 "detections" being false positives.

-JS

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752491)

That is called Bayesian statistics.

P(B|A) = P(A|B)P(B) / ( P(A|B)P(B) + P(A|notB)P(notB) )

P(B) = chance of a clot being present
P(A|B) = chance of detecting a clot, given that a clot is present
P(A|notB) = false positive
P(notB) = 1 - P(B) = chance of there not being a clot

The interesting value is P(B|A), which is the chance of there being a clot, given that one is detected.

I haven't RTFA, so I don't know whether it tells whether the 98% accuracy mentioned is P(A|B) or P(B|A). If it's the former, I remain unconvinced, because if the clots are very rare, even a modest false positive rate will make it fairly useless.

Of course I hope it really is useful, and will save lives.

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746545)

TFA did say that the alternative - a CT scan - gives a better image. Point is it's anything but cheap or portable.

"The infrascanner will never replace CT scans - but could be a highly useful new piece of medical technology."

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746235)

In fact, they are using CTs to confirm the diagnosis...so the implication is that the hand held device is missing 2% of the cases that the CT is catching...at a great cost savings (what was that speech from fightclub about the recall formula?)...that might be the reason why the device isn't cleared for use in the states.

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746391)

In developing a new technology, it's common to compare it's performance to the current 'gold standard'. Also, the device doesn't have to be perfect to be useful. It could be used as a first pass, and then a subsequent CT scan could be done on the patients that get a negative test result. It would be nice if the article gave the sensitivity and specificity so we would know what makes up its '98% accuracy'.

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (5, Informative)

fukitznukin (1088811) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746437)

The other way to look at it is to compare infrared to the current modalities. For example, MRI which provides very sophisticated images, picks up 96% of brain injuries including blood clots. However, this is a very expensive test and is time consuming. In my hospital, I can get a STAT MRI and a radiologist's report in 1-2 hours. If it's after hours, a team has to be called in to do the test and then you can add at least another 45 minutes. Infrared testing on the other hand is a bedside test that can be done very quickly and inexpensively. From a general perspective, 98% is not just adequate it is much better than most tests used in medicine. An EKG that is done for heart attacks for example can miss up to 50% and most people are relieved when they are told that the EKG is normal. 98% accuracy is almost unheard of in medical testing. The term accuracy includes the effects of false negatives and false positives so 98% accurate does not necessarily mean that 2% of the true positives are missed, the test could be picking up all the true positives but also some false positives (it overcalls the number of abnormal test results). Additionally, a test that is 98% accurate does not mean that 2% of the people die unless of course you are referring to a uniformally fatal disease of which blood clots on the brain do not belong. A subdural hematoma is one type of blood clot on the brain and its mortality is about 60%. Additionally, if you think about it, the 2% of blood clots that are going to be missed (let's say the miss rate is 2%) will be the smallest 2% of the blood clots and therefore the least lethal. Yes, size does matter when it comes to blood clots on the brain.

Please mod parent up (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746825)

My original comment was made with broad generalizations in an attempt to counterbalance the lack of perspective on medical percentages that many people seem to exhibit. On the other hand, parent appears to actually know something, so please mod him / her up.

You don't understand, grasshopper (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747975)

You don't understand the accuracy complaints, grasshopper, and proceed to bravely fight (maybe involuntarily) a complete straw-man that exists only in your imagination. Remember: just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean everyone else is an idiot. It just means you need to get some more data, and maybe engage the brains.

The complaints about accuracy are for cases where the false positives are (A) a lot more than the new positives detected by the new method, and (B) the consequences for a false positive are bad enough to matter.

E.g., to give an example based on everyone's (in the USA) favourite terror scare, let's say you have a test which identifies terrorists with 98% accuracy. The problem is that terrorists are actually very very few: in the USA in the year _before_ 9/11, there were exactly zero terrorist attacks. (So, yeah, it was soo worth giving up some rights in exchange for protection from a largely non-existant threat.) So let's say, 1 in a million is a terrorist and planning to blow himself up. Heck, let's even say, whopping ten in a million. The problem is that the new method would detect 0.02 * 1,000,000 = 20,000 false terrorists in the same million.

If such a bogus method were taken seriously enough, it would (A) swamp the law enforcement with false positives (e.g., if you had to thoroughly check 20,000 people a day on a major airport, you better build an extra wing just for the extra security guards), and (B) possibly create a bunch of problems for some people which are, in fact, innocent citizens. And often without them even being told what's wrong with them, or how to set the record straight.

In some other cases, the accuracy is actually worse than touted and can be gamed. E.g., profiling was shown to actually lower the accuracy in airport checks, _and_ provides a handy-dandy way for a real terrorist group to check who's suspected and who's clear. Just send everyone on a bunch of unrelated flights, and see who gets a cavity search every time, and who isn't even looked at by the guards. Voila, now you know who gets to carry the bomb on the plane.

_That_ is the scenario in which some of us worry about accuracy, or lack thereof.

Does this scenario fall in that category? I don't know. A doctor is probably more qualified to comment there about how much better it is than existing methods, and what the consequences of a false positive. Maybe no more than someone being shoved in a CT scanner, which is expensive, but wth, it's not the end of the world. On the other hand, if it meant directly re-opening their head because a false positive said "EMERGENCY!", _then_ we'd have to worry about that 98% accuracy. (But thankfully doctors aren't that stupid. Unlike politicians.)

At any rate, again: just because you don't understand a problem, doesn't mean everyone else is an idiot. Sure, it may provide an ego-masturbation boost to post derisive drivel about people who worry about accuracy, but at the end of the day, maybe it's not them who are in a laughable position. Maybe the one who deserves to be laughed at is the one acting snotty based on nothing more than pre-conceptions, ignorance and mis-understanding.

Re:You don't understand, grasshopper (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18751555)

Thank you for reading the article, and for your subsequent well-informed and enlightening response. I too know that people like chief neurosurgeon professor Alok Sharma are prone to exaggerating the effectiveness of medical procedures, in a manner very similar to that of a company hawking useless anti-terrorist gear. This can be true even when clinical trials have been outsourced to them and they, therefore, have no financial stake in the marketplace success or failure of the device. Your conclusion that it should be used in conjuncture with existing tests was a brilliant masterstroke, which is only further reinforced by the fact that that is, actually, exactly what the article recommends.

And clearly, anyone in a third world village for which the measly 400,000 dollar CT scanner cost is too much should simply be airlifted to a larger national hospital where they can be treated properly. Airlifting a should be a fast and easy solution and is done in places like that all the time. And, of course, the astronomical and rising cost of healthcare in the US ensuring that 45 million of us have no health care shouldn't stop us from thinking about the children for whom the ridiculously expensive CT scanning procedure could save, assuming they ever went to a hospital. After all, access to good medical procedures shouldn't be gated on ability to pay, so it never is, right? And having a nurse do a couple of CT scans throughout a night "just to check" is a routine procedure in most trauma cases anyway, and as such the need for a cheap, easy, handheld, and fast scanner that has basically no operating costs besides a bathroom-break worth of time and a little drain on some rechargable NiCads is gratuitous.

This is exactly why I posted that some people would see a "98% accuracy rate" and immediately find fault. And you did, congratulations. Almost always, these are people who feel that you shouldn't use condoms because they're "only 99% effective when used correctly." Or those who decide not to take their diabetes medicines because it might only be about "95% successful" in stemming the tide of the disease. People want medicine to be black or white, good or bad, fixes you or not, but in reality medicine is a really mushy, nasty area. Certain tests may only have a 30% detection rate, but they do it anyway because detecting certain diseases at that level is better than not detecting them at all, especially to the people who get detected. Heck, CPR on cardiac arrest victims only reduces their death rate from 95% to 90%, which means that it's by and large almost useless. Almost. To those extra 5% who survive, it's very, very nice to have around.

Having a Sociology degree, I'm well aware of just how easy it is to make percentages lie, and am happy that people seem to have developed a healthy distrust for them. What you learn to trust, if data isn't readily available, is people. If people in the field are happy with this development, and the technological basis behind it seems sound, maybe it's worthy of further examination. If they're not, like the terrorist scanners, it's probably bunk.

Can you even read? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18764765)

Can you even read, lemming, or are you in it just for the ego masturbation? No, seriously, I don't even see a need to try to be nice with a fucking retard.

Can you even understand what an example is? No, I don't think so, and here you prove it fully. You're too stupid to even comprehend that "here's an example where X applies" does _not_ mean that this particular case is equivalent to X.

Did you even see that the last paragraph explicitly says that "doctors aren't that stupid" to do the same mistakes politicians do? Where _do_ you find any support for your retarded rants about "black and white medicine", smooth-brain? Where do you find support for that "you did", when I explicitly state that this case probably doesn't fit the scenario where we worry about accuracy?

Let me guess, you didn't even read that far, you just had to jump do your own verbal masturbation as early as possible. Right? Retard.

Learn to read, idiot. Maybe even get some elementary comprehension skills. Who knows, with enough practice you may even be able to *gasp* read more than a paragraph before jumping in to do your ego masturbation. Won't that be nice? Heh.

And again, get your head out of your ass. Just because you don't understand a scenario, or (as you prove here) _when_ its used, doesn't make you the genius and everyone else an idiot. It just means _you_ are the idiot whose ego gets even in the way of elementary reading and comprehension skills. Try to first understand the problem and only _then_ let it rip with the scathing ego-masturbation, little retard.

Or let me guess, penis^H^H^H^H^H brain envy? You just feel insecure enough to _have_ to mock those who actually understand statistics and actual science? Yeah, that would explain a few things.

Re:Can you even read? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18776359)

Ah. Just a troll. Sorry I didn't recognize you.

Re:To stem the statistical comments: (1)

delvsional (745684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748523)

the device probably said they were all fine. 100% When 2% had blood clots or hematomas. That would make it 98% correct wouldn't it? Wouldn't that be great?

Company Website... (4, Informative)

appleguru (1030562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745957)

http://www.infrascanner.com/ [infrascanner.com]

Looks like they're based in PA, USA... But due to US regulations, they aren't allowed to test the device on patients in the US, and have outsourced such clinical testing to India.

Re:Company Website... (3, Insightful)

Reader X (906979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746031)

One wonders what other such testing is 'outsourced'...

Re:Company Website... (4, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746219)

The bastards, sending a device they believe will work to hospitals with no alternative just because there is less government interference. I bet they kick puppies too.

Re:Company Website... (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746703)

he bastards, sending a device they believe will work to hospitals with no alternative just because there is less government interference.

Ever see the movie Constant Gardener?

Re:Company Website... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746869)

No I haven't, but looking it up, I don't see where a device that gives a doctor the ability to do something other than stand there and wonder about the patient relates to the movie in any way.

I guess a doctor that was an enormous fool might end up trusting the device too much and forgo sending a patient that needed an MRI to a hospital where it was possible, but that's hardly a reason not to 'abuse' lax regulation to get some data about how the thing works.

My reply was a snipe at the first poster, specifically because there really isn't any reason to bring in that particular rant in this thread; the device is not dangerous(or at the very least, is incredibly unlikely to be dangerous) and has the potential to give medical facilities an ability that they do not have, at a price much lower than anything else out there.

Re:Company Website... (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747135)

the device is not dangerous(or at the very least, is incredibly unlikely to be dangerous)
An infrared beam that penetrates 3 cm, through the skull? I could imagine that being dangerous. For example, it might have enough energy to damage tissue. I assume that they've tried to rule that out, but sometimes the messy reality doesn't match the theory.

My reply was a snipe at the first poster, specifically because there really isn't any reason to bring in that particular rant in this thread;
If you're not familiar with the idea of outsourcing testing of devices on humans, the OP's point is an understandable one to raise. It doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the company in this case, but it's an interesting related issue.

Re:Company Website... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747297)

You assume it penetrates 3cm because of high power levels. It's entirely possible for the skull to be transparent enough at the frequencies they are using that not much power is needed at all. Perhaps not much more than the amount received in those bands from natural sources.

Though the specific power levels are not mentioned in TFA, the fact that it's a handheld device and requires a shroud lends credence to that idea.

Re:Company Website... (1)

Reader X (906979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748511)

It doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the company in this case, but it's an interesting related issue.

Thank you. If I was more articulate, this is what I would have said.

I was wondering whether this also was a standard practice for more dangerous medical inventions, such as pharmaceuticals, and whether the problem is really with 'excessive paperwork' costs, or with liability for product failure.

Re:Company Website... (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748631)

My apologies for being more complete. A major theme of the movie is a pharmaceutical company secretly testing a drug on Africans and quietly disposing of the patients who didn't survive. It was very well done, in a cinematic sense (it was gorgeous on the big screen), and I think it's one of the better adaptations of a Le Carre book.

I agree with you. This would appear to have no harmful side effects, yet even in testing it, some patients could receive a benefit that they otherwise wouldn't. I don't see any severe ethical short-comings. Though I'm certainly no medical ethicist, but even if it did have ethical problems, I think they would rate pretty low on the scale; if it's possible to rank the unethicality of a list of options.

Re:Company Website... (2, Interesting)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746183)

You really have to wonder what the FDA's motivation is for not allowing at least experimental use of this device in emergency settings, along with other accepted practices, to measure its effectiveness. Is there a genuine concern for the patients safety? The device certainly seems harmless enough.

Ever the cynic, I would guess that the device and the procedure are relatively inexpensive and all parties involved are working out how best to monetize (god I hate that word).

Re:Company Website... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746689)

It would attract lawyers like flies to dog poop.

Re:Company Website... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747215)

The device certainly seems harmless enough.

I don't know... If they can shine IR through a skull, bounce it off of a blood clot, and back through the skull, it's got to be fairly "bright". That's something like 2cm worth of bone that the light is shining through, and it's not like human skulls are made of crystal.

Damn! (1, Funny)

schabot (941087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745971)

98% accuracy!! What the blood clot?!

Doctor who? (1)

thorgil (455385) | more than 7 years ago | (#18745975)

In other news...

Doctor Who spotted in India! /T

I wonder (2, Funny)

Disharmony2012 (998431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746013)

If this thing will be common I HATE MRIs but, I've been having massive headaches during and after sex. and yes I will wait, because I know the MRI tubes read my mind everytime go into one, and they won't let you bring a tin foil hat.

Re:I wonder (5, Funny)

j79zlr (930600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746135)

I've been having massive headaches during and after sex.
Its called guilt, you shouldn't masturbate that many times a day.

Re:I wonder (0, Redundant)

Disharmony2012 (998431) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746191)

Ah yes, the instinctive reaction by nerds that posting on /. and getting laid are mutually exlcusive.

Re:I wonder (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746371)

Ah yes, the instinctive reaction by nerds that posting on /. and getting laid are mutually exlcusive.

Damn straight!! I'm getting laid right no-o-oh, oh oooh yeah!

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18747651)

you shouldn't masturbate that many times a day.

Especially not in an MRI machine.

Re:I wonder (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747727)

Especially not in an MRI machine.



I heard people with claustrophilia get kicks out of that.

98%??? Please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746015)

"We found a 98% accuracy for showing blood clots or haematomas.'"

Medical examiners usually have a better average accuracy.

A marvelous invention! (4, Funny)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746221)

I have to say as a blood clot sufferer this invention sounds great. For those of you who don't know the previous means for checking for blood clots was to drain out all the patients blood and let it settle, then the doctors would count the blood clots floating on the surface. On one occasion my doctor accidently dropped his pen in the vat, then he tried to fish it out. I went completely spare and told him if he expected to put that blood back in me after he'd been sloshing around in it he had another thing coming.

Re:A marvelous invention! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746271)

... told him if he expected to put that blood back in me after he'd been sloshing around in it he had another thing coming.

So, not having a lot of spare blood around, he refilled you with orange juice from the cafeteria?

Heard on a hospital PA: Due to a mixup in the lab, the cafeteria will not be serving lemonade today.

Re:A marvelous invention! (1)

Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746289)

On one occasion my doctor accidently dropped his pen in the vat, then he tried to fish it out.
Opps.

The Slashdot blood test (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746479)

for your insensitive clots.

How it works (4, Informative)

c_fel (927677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746549)

Hemoglobin has a different absorption spectrum when it's oxygenated (oxyhemoglobin) or not (desoxyhemoglobin). An interesting characteristic of this spectrum is observed in the near-infrared part or light (700-850nm): http://omlc.ogi.edu/spectra/hemoglobin/index.html [ogi.edu]

In the infrared part, oxyhemoglobin absorbs less light than desoxyhemoglobin ; it's the contrary in the red part. So if we shoot these near-infrared wavelengths (and some more, to get a good idea of the absorption spectrum) in the head and detect it somewhere else (around 5-6cm from the source), we can get information on the concentration and oxygen level of the hemoglobin in the middle of the emitter and the detector. If the hemoglobin is more present than somewhere else in the head, and it's less oxygenated than usually, we get a good idea that there's something wrong there.

Other advantages : infrared light is non-ionizing, so it's absolutely no dangerous to use that kind of instrument continuously on a person until we are sure there's no problem.

It's brilliant and I'm glad to see that kind of instrument emerging.

Re:How it works (2, Interesting)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746695)

infrared light is non-ionizing, so it's absolutely no dangerous to use that kind of instrument continuously on a person

A kitchen broiler is also non-ionizing radiation, but I suspect using it "continuously" on someone's brain is not such a good idea.

Re:How it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18747131)

Unless the brain in question is boiling

Re:How it works (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748107)

I suspect if your brain is filling up with blood and the nearest CT scanner is either next town or at the end of a 2 hour waiting list then you'll be pretty damned glad to have a hand held diagnostic that can be used in seconds, even if there was a small risk either from it's method of operation or success rates.
Everyone here seems to be looking at the products value in terms of the US medical industry which is a very different thing to the rest of the world. The US model is incredibly expensive but also has equipment available to it that no-one else does. It's all very well slagging this device off because it's no CT scanner - in most hospitals out there, a CT scanner is simply not an option so this is a huge step forward.

Re:How it works (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748197)

I suspect if your brain is filling up with blood and the nearest CT scanner is either next town or at the end of a 2 hour waiting list then you'll be pretty damned glad to have a hand held diagnostic that can be used in seconds



The problem is - you'll still need to find an available OR with the corresponding OR team and a neurosurgeon. They're usually where the nearest CT scanner is and have similar waiting lists.

Re:How it works (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748215)

The problem is - you'll still need to find an available OR with the corresponding OR team and a neurosurgeon
No, your missing the point - stop thinking US medicine practicies and facilities. I watched the BBC news item about this. A guy came in after a bike crash. At the side of the bed they scanned him, found a clot gave him a local, drilled a hole in his head and drained it - jobe done.
They interviewed the poor sap just hours later 'How do you feel?' (shellshocked and quiet voice) 'Better'.

Re:How it works (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748261)

At the side of the bed they scanned him, found a clot gave him a local, drilled a hole in his head and drained it - jobe done.



Ouch.


The device probably doesn't tell you whether the bleeding is epidural or subdural. If it's the former, you _might_ be able to get away with the simple procedure you describe, but if it's the latter, you better get the neurosurgeon, and fast.

Re:How it works (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748323)

>epidural or subdural
Have to admit ignorence and not know the difference but if it helps, they drilled 3 holes, took out a triangular section of bone and flushed the area with a clear solution (saline?).

Re:How it works (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748497)

Have to admit ignorence and not know the difference



Well, sorry for slinging medical terms around then.

Epidural means "between the skull bone and the top layer of the brain". Draining a hematoma there is comparatively simple - drill a hole through the skull bone and be extremely careful not to go any farther than that.
Subdural means "between the outer, protective layer of the brain and the actual brain". Draining anything there means that you have to go through the outer layer of the brain, which is a more delicate operation than just going through the skull bone. The requirements for sterility are also much higher, as you don't want the patient to catch a brain infection in the process.

Re:How it works (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747405)

It's brilliant.
Luminously intelligent, or radiantly bright?

Cheap?! (3, Funny)

quarrel (194077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746627)

Oi!

Who are you to call my blood clots cheap?!

False alarms? (2, Insightful)

edsyc (1088833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18746793)

Obviously a great development, but I wondered what the false alarm rate was. The device can detect 98% of blood clots, but how often does it say there is a blood clot when there actually isn't? False alarms could lead to costly, unnecessary surgeries that insurance (at least, insurance in the US) may not cover.

Re:False alarms? (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747023)

No, patients who fail the InfraScanner test could be given priority on the CT scanners for a more thorough examination. Which is better than the current system of giving priority to those who have good insurance.

=Ep!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18746799)

are inherent=Ly [goat.cx]

This will be most useful (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18747089)

This will be most useful for those of us with heads 6cm wide.

Could you scan a whole head? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747117)

Could you scan a whole head with a sufficiently bright torch in your mouth? Maybe you'd need that transparent skin mod from a while back too... It's be kind of strange having your eyeballs illuminated from the back :)

I wonder if the same tech could also be used to detect DVT too? They could build it into the X-Ray machine at airports so that on the way in and out and a bell would ring if it found a blood clot in your legs (it would make sense to detect them on the way in too!)

Re:Could you scan a whole head? (1)

tuxicle (996538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747243)

Oh great, that's all we need, *another* airport scanner.

Heh, my captcha says "comply"

Alternatively ... (1)

b1ufox (987621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18747815)

FTA, Mihir Shah, from the company Infrascanner, said the American Navy has invested up to $1 million in the device.

I wonder when there is such a breakthrough device in progress, isn't it unfair to have $1 million for a life saving cheap device research? I differ with people who sat CT/MRI scan is still to be carried out.So what? A CT/MRI scan minutes late can prove fatal and this is exactly this device is supposed to do , reduce this highly critical time gap to find out when actually to look for a scan as an option.Hell yes it is no way a replacement but an aid to save precious human life.

Some may argue 1$ million is hell lot of money.Indeed it is.But shouldn't we be spending more money on projects like this rather than on researching weapons of mass destruction and warfare.

I wish the team of doctors and researchers my best wishes for such a breakthrough device.

~psr

Good indicator of clots (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18748033)

Death.

Doctor Who? (1)

phozz bare (720522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748175)

Couldn't he have just used his Sonic Screwdriver instead?

Thanks, I'll be here all week.

Tri-corder like awesomeness (1)

Kranfer (620510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18748913)

I love this device. While it is only testing for clots and issues on the brain, I am wondering when something like this will be available to scan for things like a Pulmonary Embolism (which I had). The most annoying thing in the world was getting numerous ultra sounds to test for more clots in my legs... Hopefully someday, though, we will have something like a tricorder where we scan the body really quick and know everything that is going on... someday though... I am hoping... Please? lol.

Any jamaican (1)

rasjani (97395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18752135)

Can detect blood cloths, pussy cloths, ras cloths and what not, so why do we need a device for such trivial job ?
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