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Step forward for ICU treatment of shock patients

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UK researchers have successfully tested new machine that records oxygen consumption in real time, which they hope will improve care for critically-ill patients in shock.

The new device combines laser spectroscopy and precise flow measurement of breath in a single medical device, which fits into a standard ventilation tube.

“This is the culmination of many years of development”

Peter Robbins

It can provide measurements of oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor within the airway 100 times per second, according to the Oxford University scientists behind the device.

“The analyser is integrated within a novel respiratory flow meter that is an order of magnitude more precise than other flow meters,” they said in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers noted that patients in shock experience a lack of oxygen throughout the body, causing many of their organs to deteriorate and eventually even stop working altogether.

But they said clinicians did not currently have a “satisfactory” way of measuring how much oxygen the body was using, making it difficult to judge which treatments were most likely to be beneficial.

Tests in healthy volunteers and in patients having anaesthetics at John Radcliffe Hospital indicate the precision of the new device is better than anything previously achieved, said the researchers.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

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John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford

The device is now being used in intensive care units at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the John Radcliffe Hospital, as part of a further study.

Professor Peter Robbins, who is directing the research, said: “This is the culmination of many years of development and it has finally come to fruition.

“It is exciting for us to be able to offer something to doctors that has the potential to improve significantly the care of very sick patients,” he said.

Stuart McKechnie, consultant in intensive care at the John Radcliffe, added: “Though we already monitor critically-ill patients very closely, this device promises to provide highly useful additional information that may help us to care better for patients with sepsis and shock in the future.”

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