Stories about: NICU

Can you see what I see? Maybe not, but the computer can

What if you could just look at someone’s face and tell how fast his or her heart is beating?

The question isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. The movement of our beating heart inside our chest can in fact reveal itself on the surface of the skin, albeit too faintly for our eyes to see. But as you can see in this video, it’s not too faint for a computer (fast forward to 1:25 and 3:18):

Donna Brezinski, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Newborn Medicine and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), recently described the system used to make that video at one of the hospital’s Innovators’ Forums (a series of monthly talks hosted by Boston Children’s Innovation Acceleration Program). It uses computer-based video processing to make a pulse look like it’s bulging on a person’s wrist, or to amplify changes in skin color as freshly oxygenated blood gets pumped through the body.

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Let the line shine through: Lighting the way for complicated IV lines

A fiber optic tube like this could help make it much easier for doctors to place PICC lines and other catheters deep within the body.

The idea first came to Farhad Imam, MD, PhD, eight years ago as a trainee after a 30-hour shift.

Imam was helping care for a baby with particularly complex needs and who needed to have several IV lines inserted. The baby started having complications related to one of those lines, a deeply threaded one called a peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC line, which had gone astray and had to be repositioned.

Walking out of the hospital at his shift’s end, Imam found himself wishing there were an easy way to visualize, in real time, the progress of lines that advance deep into the body through a child’s veins.

If only we could make these lines light up, he thought to himself….

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Helping heads get into shape

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr

[Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of six occasional posts about Children’s Hospital Boston staff who received Patient Services Research Grants in 2011. This grant program engages the professional staff in the Department of Patient Services in high quality pediatric research with the ultimate goal of improving child health.]

It has been nearly 20 years since the American Academy of Pediatrics released the recommendations that fueled the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which encourages parents to put babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). And it’s worked: In less than 10 years, the rate of SIDS deaths dropped by more than half.

But with this drop came an upsurge of brachycephaly – a “positional head shape deformity” characterized by a gradual flattening of the back of an infant’s head from resting on a firm or semi-firm mattress.

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