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Biotech Science

Cheap Blood Clot Detection Device 103

Gearoid_Murphy writes "The BBC details the news of a cheap handheld device to detect blood clots on the surface of the brain. The device uses infrared light to penetrate 3 cm into the body; light that has passed through clotted blood changes detectably. A doctor who is testing the device in India said, 'We found a 98% accuracy for showing blood clots or haematomas.'"
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Cheap Blood Clot Detection Device

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  • Woah.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thyrteen ( 1084963 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @09:08PM (#18745883)
    I have a feeling that some surgeons will be sleeping alot better post-operation when they can monitor something like this more effectively.
  • by Reader X ( 906979 ) <readerx&gmail,com> on Sunday April 15, 2007 @09:31PM (#18746031)
    One wonders what other such testing is 'outsourced'...
  • by pytheron ( 443963 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @09:42PM (#18746101) Homepage
    To put statistics into perspective, you need to consider the following (for arguments sake).
    Say 98% lived with this new tech. What percentage lived without it ? Maybe 94%. You can't infer that the previous methods of detection/avoidance were mediocre just because the new method has a high success rate. The article certainly gives no comparisons.
  • Re:Woah.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @09:45PM (#18746125)
    Surgeons will go for the CT scan every time. It costs more.

    And provides a lot more information than this handheld gadget can. Given a choice, I'd opt for some real imaging rather than a high-tech studfinder.
  • Re:Woah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thyrteen ( 1084963 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @09:52PM (#18746161)
    Although the CT Scan would be useful, you need to remember. Your friend has a brain tumor. They operate, and remove it successfully, and close the opening. At this point, you wait, and pray that there's no clotting. Perhaps if this probe could be attached (I don't see why not), for a night after surgery, if clotting starts, the surgeon could get a much faster start on the patient, rather than waiting for "symptoms" to occur. A CT Scan can be useful in determining a problem, but the constant monitoring is useful for a separate scenario.
  • Re:Woah.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:42PM (#18746481) Journal
    The wait for a CT scan could be too long. There can be far more of these devices than CT scanners.

    This will help determine if patients need immediate attention.

    As long as the false positive rates aren't high and this device is sensitive enough to detect the common cases, it will be useful.
  • Re:Woah.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Silver Gryphon ( 928672 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @10:45PM (#18746501)
    Since the CT scan is expensive, time consuming and often has an hour-long wait even in emergency rooms, they now use the CT scan only if they are fairly certain there's a problem and are often discouraged from doing more than one a day on a single patient. A device like this could be used like the O2 Saturation monitors or cardiac monitors: preventative, non-invasive and don't require scheduling of the million-dollar equipment.

    I can see this tech being used some day to detect clots in legs, arms, etc.

  • False alarms? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edsyc ( 1088833 ) on Sunday April 15, 2007 @11:37PM (#18746793)
    Obviously a great development, but I wondered what the false alarm rate was. The device can detect 98% of blood clots, but how often does it say there is a blood clot when there actually isn't? False alarms could lead to costly, unnecessary surgeries that insurance (at least, insurance in the US) may not cover.
  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Monday April 16, 2007 @12:08PM (#18751555) Homepage
    Thank you for reading the article, and for your subsequent well-informed and enlightening response. I too know that people like chief neurosurgeon professor Alok Sharma are prone to exaggerating the effectiveness of medical procedures, in a manner very similar to that of a company hawking useless anti-terrorist gear. This can be true even when clinical trials have been outsourced to them and they, therefore, have no financial stake in the marketplace success or failure of the device. Your conclusion that it should be used in conjuncture with existing tests was a brilliant masterstroke, which is only further reinforced by the fact that that is, actually, exactly what the article recommends.

    And clearly, anyone in a third world village for which the measly 400,000 dollar CT scanner cost is too much should simply be airlifted to a larger national hospital where they can be treated properly. Airlifting a should be a fast and easy solution and is done in places like that all the time. And, of course, the astronomical and rising cost of healthcare in the US ensuring that 45 million of us have no health care shouldn't stop us from thinking about the children for whom the ridiculously expensive CT scanning procedure could save, assuming they ever went to a hospital. After all, access to good medical procedures shouldn't be gated on ability to pay, so it never is, right? And having a nurse do a couple of CT scans throughout a night "just to check" is a routine procedure in most trauma cases anyway, and as such the need for a cheap, easy, handheld, and fast scanner that has basically no operating costs besides a bathroom-break worth of time and a little drain on some rechargable NiCads is gratuitous.

    This is exactly why I posted that some people would see a "98% accuracy rate" and immediately find fault. And you did, congratulations. Almost always, these are people who feel that you shouldn't use condoms because they're "only 99% effective when used correctly." Or those who decide not to take their diabetes medicines because it might only be about "95% successful" in stemming the tide of the disease. People want medicine to be black or white, good or bad, fixes you or not, but in reality medicine is a really mushy, nasty area. Certain tests may only have a 30% detection rate, but they do it anyway because detecting certain diseases at that level is better than not detecting them at all, especially to the people who get detected. Heck, CPR on cardiac arrest victims only reduces their death rate from 95% to 90%, which means that it's by and large almost useless. Almost. To those extra 5% who survive, it's very, very nice to have around.

    Having a Sociology degree, I'm well aware of just how easy it is to make percentages lie, and am happy that people seem to have developed a healthy distrust for them. What you learn to trust, if data isn't readily available, is people. If people in the field are happy with this development, and the technological basis behind it seems sound, maybe it's worthy of further examination. If they're not, like the terrorist scanners, it's probably bunk.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor