From Arctic ice to the hospital room, Ohio State radiometry research earns NIH grant

Posted: July 1, 2020

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The same technology The Ohio State University used to measure Arctic ice temperatures from space, could help doctors maintain more accurate patient temperatures during lifesaving surgeries.  

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Assistant Professor Asimina Kiourti and Research Scientist Alexandra Bringer recently earned a $145,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for their proposal, "Non-Invasive Wideband Radiometer for Accurate Core Temperature Monitoring.” 

Kiourti said the two-year research effort begins in July. 

The Ohio State team also consults with Wexner Medical Center Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anesthesiologist Hamdy Awad, an associate professor of anesthesiology.

“This technology eventually will save lives in the operating room,” he said.

Incidents of hypothermia affect 50- to 90-percent of surgical patients, which can increase the likelihood of cardiac arrest, blood loss leading to transfusions, and infection. 

Radiometry has previously proven beneficial to studying climate science from space and Arctic ice floe activity. 

Kiourti said the same technology should be applied to medical research as well.

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Alexandra Bringer

“We have pioneered biomimetic antennas with unprecedented bandwidth and transmission efficiency. We have also successfully employed ultra-wideband radiometry to accurately infer the temperature of layered ice sheets – these models have never been attempted for medical radiometry,” the research abstract states.

Maintaining a patient’s proper core temperature while under anesthesia, especially in regards to burn or stroke patients, is important to prevent accidental hypothermic death. In other cases, anesthesia may induce malignant hyperthermia; if not recognized and treated early, this condition can be fatal.

Currently, thermometers are either invasively attached inside the body, or are placed directly upon the skin. Neither method is ideal for maintaining patient safety or measurement accuracy while monitoring core temperatures. 

With the NIH funding, Kiourti and team apply their pioneering biomimetic antenna research to found out if a real-time, non-invasive, and accurate core temperature thermometer is possible. 

Hamdy Awad
“This study is significant because it reveals previously nonexistent knowledge on wideband radiometer models/algorithms and antenna designs for non-invasive and accurate core temperature monitoring,” the abstract states.

The team will soon begin developing the antenna designs and algorithms for the wideband radiometer for testing on phantom tissues (a combination of ground beef and fat, among other materials) mimicking layers of the human head. 

Kiourti said the preliminary work laid out by Ohio State PhD students Jack Blauert and Katrina Guido will be instrumental in this regard.

“We envision this radiometer to be a much-needed addition to the operating room,” Kiourti said. “The expectation is to eventually link the device to other non-invasive monitors.”

Story by Ryan Horns, ECE/IMR Communications Specialist | Horns.1@osu.edu | @OhioStateECE