Novel portable ultrasound device for diagnosis of bacterial meningitis in babies

A team of biomedical engineers have developed a prototype of a low-cost portable device that can detect bacterial meningitis in babies replacing the existing painful and difficult lumbar puncture puncture test.

The innovative procedure consists of a simple, non-invasive, high-resolution ultrasound scan of part of the brain, called the fontanelle, through an opening between the cranial bones of babies under 12 months of age. The researchers created algorithms that analyse the image and can indicate, within seconds, whether cellularity, a sign of infection, exists in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The economical procedure, aims to revolutionize the detection of this illness, especially in developing countries where hospitals do not have the facilities to carry out the lumbar puncture. Without the test many children die or suffer serious complications as a result of bacterial meningitis. The procedure can be used without specialized training, and has already been tested on a small number of babies at the La Paz University Hospital (Madrid, Spain).

The research was carried out by the Madrid-MIT M+Visi