Near infrared technology could locate bedsores before they appear

Pressure ulcers, or bedsores as they are also known, are a significant issue for hospitals as they can increase hospitalization and the risk of contracting hospital acquired infection, and potentially complicate the patient’s condition. A team of Drexel University researchers are developing a way to identify these ulcers before they appear on the skin in an effort to improve patient outcomes.

The device helps physicians assess tissue damage by measuring hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation beneath the surface of the skin, according to Mike Neidrauer, a co-principal investigator on the project at the School of Biomedical Engineering, in response to questions e-mailed by MedCity News.

The technology provides information from several different depths beneath the surface, according to Neidrauer. “This is important for pressure ulcers because we do not know the exact depth at which pressure ulcers originate. And the depth may be different for different patients.  So the new device will allow us to scan several depths in order to locate the tissue damage.”

The depth factor is important because by the time these pressure ulcers appear on the skin, a large abscess has formed beneath the skin. It’s currently not possible to identify these abscesses before they get so large. If they could be identified earlier, aggressive treatment could be administered to halt their progression to an open wound, according to Neidrauer.


The diffuse near infrared light is directed to the skin using lenses, so there is no contact with the skin so no risk of patient discomfort during a scan, Neidrauer said.

The project is funded by the Coulter Foundation and was one of several presented at a conference recently highlighting the university’s Coulter-Drexel Translational Research Partnership program.

 [Photo credit: Bigstock Photo]

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