Developing a Noninvasive Intracranial Pressure Monitor for Front-line Diagnostics
This is a final looks like model of Tympanic Earbuds design. The earbud sits in the outer ear and measures the stiffness of the tympanic membrane which it can then correlate to determine intracranial pressure.
Over 6 million cases of head trauma occur each year in the United States. 320,000 of these cases are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occurring over one hour from a trauma care center. This represents a significant time during which medical professionals cannot gain direct insight into the patient’s status. Intracranial pressure (ICP) is a key factor in treating TBI and is similar to blood pressure in terms of its ability to demonstrate bodily homeostasis. Current approaches to accurately measure ICP are highly invasive and pose risks of brain bleeding and infection. They also require a neurosurgeon’s expertise. Noninvasive alternatives lack the accuracy of invasive devices and still require specialists to operate them. Through 35 interviews with stakeholders ranging from neurosurgeons to patients, we identified a need for an accurate, safe, and fast front-line intracranial pressure monitor that could be used for monitoring ICP even before the patient reaches the hospital. We propose a device that is used similar to an earbud for music. The nurse, EMT, or even patient would put it in like a normal earbud and then be able to measure their ICP based on the dynamics of their eardrum. Over the course of this semester, we have completed a preliminary prototype and tested its ability to measure variations in a model membrane. We believe our device’s usability is very novel, since very few existing ICP monitors can be operated by anyone other than a doctor. Moving forward, we hope to better characterize the relationship between the eardrum and ICP and also use more sensitive sensors that can pick up the small eardrum changes. Improving ICP monitoring has the potential to save lives and improve patient outcomes for patients with TBI, as well as for those with chronic conditions such as hydrocephalus.