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Biomedical Engineering

A new optical sensor for continuous monitoring of cerebrospinal fluid pulsations in neonatal hydrocephalus

Principle investigators

Professor P. A. Kyriacou

Dr M. Hickey


Professor A. Petros and Mr K. Aquilina, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

Project overview

Neonatal hydrocephalus is a rare but serious condition occurring in premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Its consequences include mortality and severe neurodevelopmental disabilities. Hydrocephalus in neonates is particularly difficult to diagnose and often results in the poorest neurological outcomes. Current screening methods for hydrocephalus include of the cerebral ventricles measurements, fontanelle fullness, and ventricular width using transcranial ultrasonography, with ultrasonography being the preferred method. However, these measurements are often subjective, are non-continuous and may be heavily operator dependent. A new continuous, non-invasive method of providing an early warning/screening of the onset of hydrocephalus would be extremely beneficial in optimising the medical care of these neonates and reducing potential neurodevelopmental problems. To address this need, it is proposed to develop a non-invasive, optical sensor utilising the principle of photoplethysmography (PPG) to assess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) pulsations continuously through the neonatal fontanelle.