The most important clinical indicator is body temperature. A slight increase in temperature indicates a focus of the disease, which is extremely important to diagnose and cure in time. There are several types of thermometers. One way to determine if a patient is at risk for fever is to monitor his or her body temperature.

If a patient’s body temperature rises, the diagnosis is most likely in order. Other blood tests and X-rays can be used to help diagnose various types of CNS diseases, but because a primary cause can be determined with a simple test, the radiologist has the luxury of time to make sure he or she diagnoses the correct disease.

A new device can measure a patient’s body temperature without touching them. Two Columbia University scientists developed the device called the Infrared Visible Temperature Probes (IR-Vis-Therapy) by taking advantage of infrared technology, which they said is two to three times more sensitive than traditional techniques.

“The techniques we used to determine body temperature were 150 years old and rely on a hammering and shattering process, which leaves the patient vulnerable to infections and other complications,” said Osama El-Kadiry, a professor of surgery in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center and director of Columbia’s Skin Disease and Laser Center. “This device allows for a more precise measurement of body temperature and it is also useful for many other applications, such as measuring heart rate, blood pressure and stress.”

The system consists of three parts: a sensor, which is embedded with nanoscale materials; a power source that transfers electricity through a connection, and a receiver that senses infrared light. The device uses a video camera to photograph the body before measuring the body’s temperature.

The researchers developed two prototypes, including one that was integrated with a blood glucose meter. Their study, which was published in the December issue of the journal PLoS One, found that the IR-Vis-Therapy probes successfully and safely identified body temperature in 17 patients.

“We believe that the ability to measure and monitor our body temperature in real time will change the way we live,” said El-Kadiry. “Our system is not only useful in diagnosing and curing diseases, but it also allows us to measure our physiological condition in real time, and if necessary, we can monitor what’s going on in our body.”

El-Kadiry and his colleagues are working with Columbia’s Lifespan Cardiology Institute, the Division of Plastic Surgery, the Division of Neurology and the Brain Tumor Center to further develop the system.

“Our researchers are at the forefront of an emerging field in which they are inventing new ways to measure biological processes and gain new insights into complex body-systems interactions,” said Joseph O’Sullivan, associate dean for medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and professor of internal medicine and molecular medicine at Columbia. “I have been amazed at how well they are developing these innovative devices to treat patients.”

Current technologies to measure body temperature include a thermometer that works by rubbing the patient’s skin with a metal cube, which forces the patient’s skin to raise. The body temperature reading is not precise and can be off by as much as 10 degrees Celsius.

Note: The above article is based on a press release from Columbia University.

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