Dr Justin Phillips has received a prestigious award from the Royal Academy of Engineering to enable him to develop a non-invasive optical probe to monitor intracranial pressure.

By Mr John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer), Published (Updated )

Dr Justin Phillips, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering, is one of seven researchers to have received a prestigious RAEng/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).

Dr Phillips, a member of the Biomedical Engineering Research Group (BERG), is developing a completely non-invasive optical probe that can be placed on the forehead for continuous external monitoring of intracranial pressure (ICP).

There are approximately 50,000 cases of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the UK every year. Most of these cases result in death or severe disability. Raised intracranial pressure is a life-threatening condition which can result in the compression of brain tissue and a reduction in the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. Monitoring ICP can prove to be life-saving but standard methods of doing so are invasive and take time to establish, as they require drilling into the skull and inserting a sensor in the brain.Though non-invasive methods to measure ICP have been developed, they do not permit continuous monitoring. Measurement of blood pressure in the retinal veins or imaging-based techniques also require considerable user intervention, even when they have yielded promising results.

The probe being developed by Dr Phillips will illuminate the deep brain tissue and detect the pulsation of cerebral arteries. The shape of the optical pulse wave is affected by changes in the pressure surrounding the arteries which will allow the calculation of the ICP, displayed to clinicians in real time. The use of this probe in trauma units will provide warning of the need for rapid intervention and guide long-term treatment. This could ultimately lead to significant improvements in mortality, length of hospital stays and reduced post-trauma disability.

For this research project, Dr Phillips will be collaborating with doctors at Barts Health, which includes St Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospitals. He recently discussed his RAEng Fellowship with The Engineer magazine. Please visit this weblink to read the full story.


Intracranial pressure:

Intracranial pressure (ICP) is the pressure inside the skull and in the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

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