Honors Gallery

UWB Intracranial hematoma detector

Award: Excellence in Technology Transfer

Year: 2011

Award Type:

Region: Far West

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

Over 1.3 million people are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Of these, 52,000 die and about 100,000 suffer long-term disability. With proper early detection and monitoring, many of these patients can be saved; but hospitals lack noninvasive real-time tools for monitoring TBI patients for delayed intracranial bleeding, which is difficult to detect and can kill a patient many hours after the initial trauma.

Expensive equipment like computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is routinely used by hospital emergency and intensive-care physicians to detect regions of injured brain tissue. However, these tools are not suitable for continuous real-time monitoring of the injured brain because they either expose the patient to significant doses of ionizing radiation (in the case of the CT scan), or take a long time to complete a scan (in the case of MRI). Both tools also require significant expertise to operate and cannot run unattended.

An automated, unattended, portable, noninvasive, continuous, real-time monitoring device that detects the presence and expansion of intracranial hemorrhage as it develops would be a major advancement in the treatment of TBI patients. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has developed a technology, based on ultra-wide band (UWB) signals, that is capable of detecting these internal injuries based on the concept of using the bilateral symmetry of the brain to identify abnormalities. It is ideally suited for medical diagnostic and monitoring applications because the emitted electromagnetic radiation is non-ionizing and has both peak and average power levels that are orders of magnitude lower than those of a handheld cell phone.

The detector will be commercialized by NeuroSapient, Inc., through LLNL’s Entrepreneurs in Readiness, an innovative program designed to increase the technology transfer’s chance of success.

The benefit of this technology transfer effort is the improved standard of care that will be applied to the millions of TBI patients all over the world—an improved standard that reduces cost while maintaining high patient outcomes: no more drilling holes in the skull, no more ionizing radiation than necessary, no more waking the patients up every hour during the night, and no more second doubts after the patient has been sent home.