Devices & Diagnostics

Lab-on-a-tube prototype aspires to be all-in-one brain monitor

The newly developed “lab on a tube” is a catheter equipped with multiple sensors capable of continuously monitoring numerous physiological and biochemical changes in the brain, simultaneously. The device is designed to also drain cerebrospinal fluid — the liquid which the brain floats in — as well as deliver medications directly to the brain.

Lab on a tube prototype

Lab on a tube prototype

Engineers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a prototype device to enhance the monitoring and treatment of patients with life-threatening brain injuries.

The newly developed “lab on a tube” is a catheter equipped with multiple sensors capable of continuously monitoring numerous physiological and biochemical changes in the brain, simultaneously. The device is designed to also drain cerebrospinal fluid — the liquid which the brain floats in — as well as deliver medications directly to the brain.

The new prototype is not ready for use in patients. The device itself is under a provisional patent and could be ready for testing in an animal model in the next few months. But university researchers are enthusiastic about the potential they see to advance the treatment of traumatic brain injuries, strokes, brain tumors and brain infections.

This device “could take the whole science of patient monitoring to another level,” said the project’s principle investigator, Dr. Raj Narayan chairman in the school’s Department of Neurosurgery.


Current neuromonitoring practices require the implantation of several devices, some of which provide only intermittent readings, the lab on a tube is designed to give clinicians more timely, comprehensive data through a single device, he said.

It is designed to simultaneously monitor intracranial glucose, oxygen, temperature and pressure. Sensors within the unit can measure the biochemistry of the cerebrospinal fluid and sensors on the outside can capture changes within the brain’s tissue. Plus, it reduces from two to one the holes drilled into the skull to insert sensors, according to a university press release.

Access to such information in real-time can provide clinicians with a powerful tool for determining a patient’s most effective course of treatment, especially as complications or other conditions arise.

Narayan said the device won’t be used in a clinical setting for at least two years.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]