Blood oxygenation monitoring is easy in typical patients, but a cerebral oxygenation in a fetus in the womb is much harder to assess. Noninvasix, a company based in Galveston, Texas, has developed a new device that, though not yet cleared, may turn out to offer an easy way to accurately measure cerebral venous oxygenation.
Currently, the variability in the basal fetal heart rate is used as the standard, but this is an indirect measurement. For a fetus in vertex presentation, the new probe would be inserted transvaginally, the physician holding it between two fingers and placing it against the baby’s head. Using optoacoustic technology, the device is able to measure cerebral venous oxygenation in the superior sagittal sinus, an area of the brain right below the scalp through which a lot of blood passes. Laser light is directed into the brain through the still translucent scalp of the fetus, triggering ultrasonic waves to be produced within that can be detected and measured. The nature of the resulting sound waves will hopefully be indicative of fetal blood oxygenation and we’ll see this technology help prevent a variety of terrible life long conditions.
More details about the technology we received from Noninvasix:
Because the generated ultrasound signal returns in a straight line from the superior sagittal sinus, the actual saturation of hemoglobin in the superior sagittal sinus can be accurately determined.
This patented optoacoustic technology provides accurate measurement of oxygenation due to high (optical) contrast and high (ultrasound) resolution that permits direct probing of blood vessels.
Moreover, because cerebral venous desaturation provides direct evidence that cerebral oxygen availability is insufficient to satisfy cerebral oxygen requirements, studies suggest that decreasing levels of SSS(SO2) can provide an early warning of neonatal cerebral hypoxia.
Here’s a quick company pitch from Noninvasix: