New Medical Device Slashes Surgery Risk

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A new electromedical device provides important data about possible cardiovascular and pulmonary risks before an operation.

Before any operation, it is important to properly assess the individual risk: Are there perhaps circulatory or pulmonary problems that need special consideration? To what extent can special risks be taken into account when planning the anaesthesia? Previously, clinicians have had to rely on rather subjective empirical values or carry out more elaborate examinations when in doubt. To address this, a novel device has been developed by TU Wien and MedUni Wien to objectively measure the cardiovascular and pulmonary system fitness of patients.

Pre-op interviews are important—but subjective
Complications often occur after surgical interventions. In addition to blood loss and sepsis, perioperative cardiovascular and pulmonary problems are among the most common causes of death in the first 30 days after surgery.

To minimise this risk, anesthesiologists routinely talk to patients before surgery, in addition to measuring their blood pressure, performing an electrocardiogram, or conducting more laborious examinations. But assessing responses can be highly individualised. “There are also objectively measurable parameters by which one could easily identify possible risks,” said Prof Eugenijus Kaniusas (TU Wien, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology). “So far, however, they have not been routinely measured.”

Just hold your breath
This new device uses multiple sensors to determine key metrics in a completely non-invasive way. All the patient has to do is hold their breath for a short time to slightly outbalance their body, which responds reflexively with various biosignals. “Holding your breath is a mild stress for the body, but that is already enough to observe changes in the regulatory cardiovascular and pulmonary systems,” explained Eugenijus Kaniusas. “Oxygen saturation in the blood, heart rate variability, certain characteristics of the pulse waveform—these are dynamic parameters that we can measure in a simple way, and from them we could ideally infer individual fitness in general, especially before surgery.”

Since the device is non-invasive, medical training is not needed to operate it, and has no side effects. The result is easy to read: A rough assessment according to the three-color traffic light system or a score between 0 and 100 is displayed. The measurement can also be carried out at the bedside without any problems for people with limited mobility.

“Our laboratory prototype is being tested at MedUni Wien in cooperation with Prof. Klaus Klein from the University Department of Anesthesia, General Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy. We hope to bring the device to market in the next 5 years with the help of research and transfer support,” said Eugenijus Kaniusas.

Source: Vienna University of Technology

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