Neonatal survival is greatly improved by keeping the baby in a controlled temperature environment provided by an incubator/warmer. In order to control body temperature accurately, consistent and reliable temperature measurement of the baby is necessary. This is currently accomplished using a temperature sensor (thermistor) that is affixed to the body by means of an adhesive. This approach has the disadvantage of being a single point measurement and the adhesive can distress the delicate skin of the infant. Furthermore, the sensor is prone to dislodgement, leading to problems with feedback temperature control. For these reasons, we propose to develop and test a non-contact temperature sensing scheme based on a gel that has a temperature sensitive molecule in it. The proposed molecules are fluorescent and their luminescence varies as a function of temperature. With this approach, the gel can be distally excited using an LED and imaged via an inexpensive digital camera. The Center for Advanced Sensor Technology and General Electric Healthcare propose an R21 project that will develop and test the sensing gel and instrumentation for non- contact temperature sensing. The system will be tested on water filled dolls wrapped in pigskin to mimic a neonate. We expect the system to be ready for animal and human trials at the end of the two year project.
A non-contact temperature sensor is proposed for use with infants in incubators/ baby warmers. This sensor will allow for monitoring body temperature of neonates without the current problems of adhesive-based wired sensors that are attached to the delicate skin of the newborn.
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