Under Pressure

14 Sep 2017 - 14:15

Dr Llewellyn Padayachy, a neurosurgeon at UCT’s Red Cross Children’s Hospital, met medical device experts from SINTEF (Norway) and collaborated on the development of a device to measure intracranial pressure (ICP) non-invasively using ultrasound, based on his original idea.  Excellent progress has been made and a new UCT/SINTEF spin-off company “Nisonic” has been established in Norway to use venture capital available in that environment to take the development through to commercialisation.  Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Seed funding will be used to perform the initial validation of the device in clinical trials which will be conducted in SA.

The monitoring and rapid detection of raised ICP during neurosurgery or medical care is critical for patients suffering from head injuries or stroke. Elevated levels of ICP may result in tissue damage, or, if left untreated, death. The current gold standard requires invasive e.g. using micro-sensors placed inside the brain, but with these devices there is a huge risk of infection and brain haemorrhage.

Research indicated that there is a positive correlation between the degree of displacement of points on the optic nerve sheath when it is subjected to ultrasound and the ICP and the method proved to be particularly accurate.  The initial proof of concept trials used conventional ultrasound machines but there is a need (and potentially large market) for a mobile, hand-held device adaptable to suit various eye sizes (e.g. for children, adults) that can be used by paramedics.