Blood Monitor Graphic
The researchers’ model of red blood cells in the blood is shown. (Credit: Jose Rafael Guzman-Sepulveda)

An innovative device can save doctors critical time during life-or-death operations, like heart surgery. The real-time blood monitor provides instant blood analysis to let surgeons know if a deadly problem in many surgeries — blood coagulation — is happening.

Current tests can take up to 30 minutes, which is too long to wait on results when every second counts. This is especially important during surgery on the youngest patients, such as infants. The researchers’ latest work is a numerical model that quantifies how the device works and adds further validation to its effectiveness.

The monitor uses an extremely small optical fiber that’s a fraction of a millimeter in diameter to assess the status of the blood and can be inserted directly into the tubes of a heart-lung machine or in a catheter, without having to withdraw blood from the patient.

The work allows the researchers to, for the first time, relate their measurements to what was actually happening to the blood and explain the changes in the way that red blood cells “jiggle” around in the blood stream.