Ventilator-induced lung injury is a common cause of complications and death in critically ill infants with respiratory failure, and currently there are no safe methods exist to measure lung function in infants. Traditional oxygen monitors only measure the function of the lung as a whole, leaving regional measurements in question. Chest X-rays involve ionizing radiation that can harm young infants.
To fill this gap in neonatal care, Patz is developing a portable magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device that is safe for newborns. Supported by a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Challenge Grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), his Ventilation Stethoscope could allow clinicians to measure ventilation in different regions of premature infants’ developing lungs, without using harmful ionizing radiation. If poor ventilation is detected in a particular region, a clinician could then correct this to ensure that all portions of a newborn’s lungs are working. The Ventilation Stethoscope is smaller and more portable than a traditional MRI scanner, making it more suitable for use in the NICU.
“I am enormously thankful for the grant we have received through the Recovery Act,” said Patz. “It has allowed me to work on an exciting and important project and has provided key funding for my research group during a critical time.” Read more here.
Read more on the NHLBI website.