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Looking Ahead to Heal Wounds

Wound Monitoring by the Numbers 1.6 million Number of patients in the wound care market in 2009 5% Annual growth wound care market driven by the rise of diabetes and obesity

2.5 million
Number of patients projected to be in the wound care market by  2018

$500 M–$600 M
Estimated U.S. market potential for wound monitoring (in millions)

Source: Drexel University

Using diffused near-infrared spectroscopy (DNIRS) could be a novel and noninvasive way for doctors to assess the progress of wound healing. Developed at Drexel University (Pittsburgh), the technology can predict diabetic wound healing within four to six weeks after the start of treatment. It can also predict onset of pressure ulcers before they are visible.

The wound monitor is a step forward in diabetes treatment because there isn’t an established technique for early wound healing detection or for precisely identifying healing progress. Doctors currently conduct visit-to-visit checks of wounds to assess healing. Hyperspectral imaging takes pictures of the wound at certain wavelengths to create a map of oxygenated hemoglobin. However, this method can only superficially penetrate the wound and has limited diagnostic use.

According to a study conducted at Drexel’s College of Medicine, the time course of oxygenated hemoglobin change is a strong indicator of diabetic wound healing. The DNIRS prototype measures the level of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin around a patient’s wound and then compares it to a healthy site on the patient. DNIRS analyzes tissue by measuring optical absorption at significant depths, because light can penetrate several centimeters due to a low absorption of hemoglobin. The optical absorption of hemoglobin sharply increases at red and near-infrared wavelengths versus other visible wavelengths.

The device, which is controlled by software, can take measurements anywhere within or around a wound. It takes seconds for the results to be displayed on a computer screen. The technology has a disposable probe.

A preclinical device has been tested over several years, and a second prototype is being constructed to use for a second human study. Researchers are working to design a more portable device. The technology is available for licensing, and Drexel is seeking a commercial partner.

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