UAB to study hand-held device that monitors traumatic brain injury

The device is a non-invasive scanner using near infrared light to assess brain injuries.

Infrascanner being held up to person's head.The device is a non-invasive scanner using near infrared light to assess brain injuries.Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will investigate the usefulness of a new non-invasive method to measure the expansion of hematomas in the brain. Expanding hematomas — ruptured blood vessels in the brain often caused by traumatic brain injury are associated with markedly worse outcomes for these patients.  

Jan Jansen, MBBS, Ph.D., director of the UAB Center for Injury Science, along with Executive Director Shannon Stephens, EMTP, will lead a two-year, $2.8 million clinical trial to evaluate the device called the Infrascanner.  This project is funded by the Combat Casualty Care Research Program’s Neurotrauma Program at the US Army Medical Research and Development Command via the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium.

“We are thrilled to be able to evaluate the role of this exciting new technology in detecting hematoma expansion,” said Jansen. “This may help improve treatment for patients with traumatic brain injuries and may improve outcomes. 

The Infrascanner is a hand-held, non-invasive device, which is FDA-cleared to detect traumatic intracranial hematomas. The purpose of the trial is to assess the device’s ability to monitor the size of hematomas and track any changes in size, as expanding hematomas often require a change in treatment. 

The device uses near infrared spectroscopy to detect intracranial hematomas, based on the differential light absorption associated with the injured versus the non-injured parts of brain.

Infrascanner The Infrascanner compares the left and right sides of the brain in four different areas. Measurements can be completed within a matter of a few minutes.  

“The device allows a medical professional to detect and measure a hematoma quickly and easily, even in a challenging environment,” Jansen said. “Early detection is the key to minimizing brain damage and improving outcomes.”

The CIS Clinical Trials Unit will work with nine other Level I trauma centers from around the country to enroll 400 trauma patients with intracranial bleeding.