Oxford — An advanced clinical imaging system that will give doctors a new means to monitor the condition of immobile patients is being developed using software from QNX at Oxford Brookes University.
The system passes small, high-frequency electric currents through 64 sensors placed over a patient's body. The resulting voltage data is used to create a two-dimensional picture of tissue impedance, which refreshes at 25 images per second. The QNX real-time operating system must match this speed to ensure that the resulting measurements are accurate and can be analysed.
The solution is particularly beneficial to sufferers of lung disease, who often develop fluid accumulations and cannot be moved to an X-ray or MRI scanner.
Following a successful first phase of development, the research team has started to design a modular system which should provide better imaging resolution and will allow for full 3D imaging.
Chris McLeod, professor of electronics and medical instrumentation at Oxford Brookes University, explained, “The nature of academic research is that students are often appointed for a set time and then move on to other projects. We chose QNX as it enables users to focus on developing and improving the system, rather than on getting to grips with how the underlying operating system that runs the project works.”
The research project is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and will run for a further two years. The systems will be used in intensive care in Oxford in collaboration with staff in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics during the latter part of 2003 and through 2004.