Low-cost, noninvasive, point-of-care system quickly detects aspiration in dysphasia patients.
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have invented a fast and simple way to quickly detect pulmonary aspiration in patients with dysphasia (difficulty swallowing) or other conditions that put them at risk for aspiration-related illnesses. Pulmonary aspiration occurs when people inhale materials like food, drink, stomach acid or saliva into their airways and lungs, making them susceptible to respiratory infections, such as chemical pneumonitis, pneumonia, or even asphyxiation.
Current methods for diagnosing aspiration rely on the clinical presentation of symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, blue coloration of the skin, cough, and difficulty swallowing. Clinicians may also use chest X-rays, contrast-enhanced computerized tomography (CT) scans or bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Many of these tests require a patient’s visit to a provider location, and in some instances, sedation of the patient. Moreover, the current methods may not be sensitive enough to detect subtle lung damage. In contrast, the new UCF system provides a noninvasive, portable, and more affordable diagnosis that small medical clinics can perform.
The invention consists of a point-of-care system and methods for detecting pulmonary aspiration in a patient. The system may include a breath collector conduit; a quantum cascade laser (QCL) spectrometer; a program code module for determining an exhaled concentration of a detectable component received by the breath collector; and a second program code module for determining a comparison of the exhaled concentration (CE) with a signature profile (CS).
In one example application, a patient swallows a substance (either a drinkable liquid or edible food) that contains a known concentration of microbubbles (FDA-approved biodegradable polymers) filled with a nontoxic tracer gas (such as SF6). The microbubbles disintegrate inside the body after a designated time delay. Variations of the microbubbles may occur to adjust the timing of the degradation, including changing the thickness of the outer shell, changing the size of the microbubble, and varying the composition of the microbubble shell. A mask is used to capture a breath sample from the patient’s nose, mouth or both. The breath collector conduit funnels the sample to the QCL spectrometer, which detects the tracer gas. The concentration of the exhaled SF6 is analyzed and matched against a signature aspiration profile.
- Noninvasive, low-cost,portable and easy to use
- Accessible, fast detection for non-medical personnel
- May provide a more sensitive diagnostic method than currently available tests
- Circumvents the need for traveling to major hospitals and eliminates expensive tests and X-ray exposure
- Aspiration diagnostic testing