Novel User-friendly Ultrasound Methods for Monitoring and Prevention of Cerebral Hypoxia

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A lack of oxygen in the human brain can result in permanent neuronal damage. Like a car running out of gas, the human brain requires the right amount of oxygen at all times to work correctly. A lack of oxygen in the brain, also known as cerebral hypoxia, is prevalent in half of all critical ill patients in the intensive care unit. But studying cerebral hypoxia in sick patients is often very difficult.

A unique approach to understanding hypoxia-driven changes in otherwise healthy individuals emerges when considering high-altitude environments. Above altitudes of 2500 meters, the atmospheric oxygen thins, challenging the body's ability to absorb the necessary amounts of oxygen. This allows us to observe the body and brain's responses without the interference of other underlying illnesses.

Unfortunately, at present, non-invasive methods to quantify cerebral hypoxia are either laborious and require high-skilled personnel or have large inter-/intra-observer variability and no clear cut-off values.

A user-friendly, unambiguous, and accessible diagnostic tool is urgently needed for the monitoring and decision-making in the mountains and at the beside. US-CHIMP aims to provide such tool by combining inexpensive and portable ultrasound and the development of surrogate measures of cerebral hypoxia. 

As such US-CHIMP will not only work in extreme conditions where other imaging methods might fail but can also provide continuous, accessible, and reliable non-invasive bedside monitoring for patients in the intensive care unit.

To achieve this goal in just two years we follow a multiphase development process from computer simulations to hands-on studies with volunteers in the terraXcube. US-CHIMP hopes to provide accurate information about key clinical syndromes and to improve disease management both in the intensive care unit and in our beautiful mountains.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101105524.

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