Royal Philips has entered a partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to explore the use of its ultrasound technology and physiological modelling.

The technology is being considered as a less invasive way to measure intracranial pressure (ICP).

ICP is an essential tool for managing patients with brain injuries.

The research could also allow doctors to use the measurement on less critical patients, who might not normally be considered for such monitoring.

Under the deal, a study will be conducted in which Philips will work with neurosurgery experts to test a core estimation algorithm that was developed by the Integrative Neuromonitoring and Critical Care Informatics Group in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

The company noted that current standard ICP measurement procedures require surgical penetration of the skull or lumbar spine and insertion of a catheter into the cerebrospinal fluid space or neural tissue posing a high risk of infection and damage to vital brain structures.

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The trial is expected to create the opportunity to take ICP measurements in an expanded group of patients who would not routinely be monitored because of health risks involved with measuring ICP.

MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department assistant professor Thomas Heldt said: "The current invasive method of measuring ICP is used only in the sickest patients, but knowledge of ICP is potentially important in a much broader population.

"Our goal is to develop a noninvasive method of measuring ICP that could be used in treating a much wider range of conditions.

"This project gives us an exciting opportunity to test innovative hardware and modelling techniques at the bedside in real-time."

The deal will see Philips will work with MIT over the next two years to research a fully non-invasive and calibration-free approach to estimate ICP, allowing better diagnosis and triage with patients suffering from a brain injury.

"This project gives us an exciting opportunity to test innovative hardware and modelling techniques at the bedside in real-time."

Researchers will try to get the value of ICP without penetrating the skull using Philips portable ultrasound technologies and monitoring technologies, as well as the MIT model-based estimation approach.

Additionally, researchers intend to expand the use of the technology to non-traditional patients, including those with unexplained headaches, mild and moderate traumatic brain injury or even those in a coma.

Philips recently opened its new research headquarters for North America in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where it will carry out these types of research projects in collaboration with local academic and healthcare partners.

Philips Research North America chief science officer Dr Joseph Frassica said: "Today it is very difficult to gauge the level of head trauma someone has sustained at the scene of an incident because there is no quick and effective way to gauge the pressure inside the skull.

"Through this research, we hope to use the same technology most people associate with the first images of their child, in a way that has the potential to help us to differentiate a concussion from a serious traumatic brain injury and everything in between."

Image: Philips mobile ultrasound technology will help researchers find a non-invasive way to measure intracranial pressure. Photo: courtesy of Business Wire.