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A compact pulsed near-infrared light probe for non-invasive imaging of the spaces between the skull and the brain to improve the diagnosis of brain injuries during spaceflight

Fournier, Roxanne; Nkansah, Kwasi; Harris, Myles; Raimalwala, Kaizad; Kamine, Tovy; Gmeiner, Timotheus; (2022) A compact pulsed near-infrared light probe for non-invasive imaging of the spaces between the skull and the brain to improve the diagnosis of brain injuries during spaceflight. In: Proceedings of the 73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022. (pp. p. 68643). International Astronautical Federation: Paris, France. Green open access

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Abstract

An intracranial hemorrhage (IH) is a medical emergency that needs to be managed within hours of the event. In the context of deep space travel, this signifies that an emergency evacuation back to Earth, which could take many days, would not be possible. Additionally, the gold-standard for diagnosis of IH, computed tomography (CT), is resource intensive, generates ionizing radiation, and requires special training to operate and interpret. For these reasons, it is unlikely that CT scans will be available for astronauts in space for years to come. To address this problem, we have designed a novel diagnostic tool that will provide crew medical officers or their crewmates with information on the presence and severity of an IH by taking advantage of recent advancements in the field of time-domain diffuse correlation spectroscopy. The device consists of a pulsed laser generator and handheld probe which is able to emit light and gather reflected diffuse light that has travelled through the skull. As the laser will be pulsed as opposed to a continuous beam, it allows us to determine the time-of-flight (TOF) and lag time of the photons based on fluctuations in the intensity of light. Additionally, the ultrafast femtosecond pulse will gather information on the composition of the biological tissue being examined. The end result will be data on the depth and velocity of light scattering particles of the tissue to an approximate maximal depth of 2-3 cm, as well as the amplitude and phase of the collected light. Because IH changes the optical properties of the meningeal layers, we expect to be able to feed particle velocity data into a custom machine learning algorithm to learn to identify bleeds. The overall design does not exceed the volume of a double-width ISS middeck locker, making it compact enough to meet spaceflight requirements. The design also includes a framework that will enable the data to be quickly transmitted to healthcare providers off-site such as a flight surgeon on Earth managing a deep space mission. In addition to being able to detect changes in optical properties of meningeal layers, we also anticipate applications for diagnosis and management of pleural effusion In conclusion, by reducing the reliance on medevacs back to Earth in order to perform CT scans, and by providing more evidence in the hands of the user, we can increase the autonomy of astronaut crews in deep space.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: A compact pulsed near-infrared light probe for non-invasive imaging of the spaces between the skull and the brain to improve the diagnosis of brain injuries during spaceflight
Event: 73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022 (IAC 2022)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://iafastro.directory/iac/archive/browse/IAC-...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Inst for Risk and Disaster Reduction
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10187567
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