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Aston devises more accurate method to check blood flow in diabetes patients

15 Feb 2023

Laser-based method works by separating laser Doppler flowmetry signals; also promising for monitoring blood flow in the brain and more.

Scientists at Aston University, Birmingham, UK, have discovered a more accurate photonic technique of checking the blood flow in the feet of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Using lasers, their findings have resulted in improved accuracy in detecting tiny changes in microcirculation – the smallest vessels within the circulatory system. Changes in flow at this level can affect whether tissue lives or dies. People with type 2 diabetes can be at risk of foot amputations due to circulatory complications caused by their condition.

A photonic technique Laser Doppler Flowmetry (LDF) has long been used to monitor bloodflow in the skin. Developed in the late 1970s this method relies on averages of blood flow, therefore is not always accurate.

Now, Aston University researchers have suggested a new approach to process LDF light signals that is more precise. The research is described in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

Measuring flow in specific area

Currently, LDF measures the blood perfusion – which is proportional to an average volume of blood flowing through an average volume of tissue per an average unit time. However, the new method separates the LDF signals allowing blood flow to be measured in a specific area of the vascular bed such as capillaries or veins.

The proposed approach has a great potential to be incorporated in existing bedside and wearable LDF-based devices for the more advanced clinical diagnosis of blood flow and blood flow microcirculation.

The new approach underwent tests on both healthy volunteers and pilot clinical trials on diabetes patients by applying a probe to their skin. The new method showed a significant improvement in the diagnostic accuracy of detection of microvascular changes in the skin of the feet in patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as age-specific changes.

The research was led by Professor of mechanical, biomedical and design engineering, Igor Meglinski and Dr Viktor Dremen of Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT).

Professor Meglinski commented, “We’re delighted to have found a more accurate method of blood flow diagnosis in skin that, we believe, can help people with diabetes. In the future this technique could pave the way for more precise imaging of blood flow in the brain and other biological tissues.”

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