John Arkwrightand Flinders University colleagues have developed a tiny, low cost, fiber-optic sensor to monitor blood flowthrough the aorta in real-time. The goal is continuous monitoring during prolonged intensive care and surgical procedures. Current blood flow measurement, using ultrasound or thermo-dilution, is intermittent, averaging every 30 minutes.
The device is inserted through a small aperture in the skin, into the femoral artery, when heart function is compromised. Its size allows it to be used in the tiny blood vessels of infants. Very young babies are particularly susceptible to sudden drops in blood pressure and oxygen delivery to vital organs.