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Scanning blood flow during operations


EUREKA project E! 2427 PERMON is developing a radiological imaging system that will give medics a clearer view inside the human body by accurately monitoring organ blood flow during operations. This essential information will lead to an increase in techniques such as laser surgery over more invasive methods. Operations will be less costly and less traumatic to the patient, involving smaller incisions, less pain, and shorter hospital stays.

The project brought together a range of Polish and Austrian partners from across the medical field to devise the PERMON system that uses computer software to compare scanner data with maps of healthy blood flow around organs including the brain and the kidneys. By providing constant updates on blood flow, the system allows a surgeon to operate as the patient lies under the scanner, fine tuning the surgery as the operation proceeds to obtain the best result.

Dr Piotr Bogorodzki at the Warsaw University of Technology, the project’s Polish lead partner, says that “with our system, surgeons don’t have to wait for the result of MRI or CT scans. Delays in treatment are removed and surgery can be adapted as more information is revealed.”

The PERMON system can also monitor drugs designed to improve blood flow during organ transplants and help tackle the circulation problems that cause millions of deaths through stroke and other serious illnesses every year. Bogorodzki expects strong interest from pharmaceutical companies and from medical technology companies keen to take the system into commercial markets.

Co-operation across technical and medical disciplines is the key to PERMON’s success. Clinicians had criticised previous measures of blood flow as being designed by theorists, and for being time-consuming and too complex.

Dr Bogorodzki says, “EUREKA made it easy for clinicians and technicians to work together. Paperwork and bureaucracy are kept to a minimum, allowing us to get on with the research and development.” Feedback from all project partners and simulations of operating theatre conditions were used to refine the final software design into a format that clinicians felt comfortable with.

The PERMON project team are confident that their system has a bright commercial future, and are now waiting for scanner technology to catch up. The next generation CT scanner, which should be available within two years, is expected to create a much greater interest in blood flow monitoring.

Julie Sors | alfa
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