From Arctic ice to the hospital room, Ohio State radiometry research earns NIH grant

Posted: July 18, 2020

The same technology The Ohio State University used to measure Arctic ice temperatures from space could help doctors maintain more accurate patient temperatures during lifesaving surgeries.  

Asimina Kiourti

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Assistant Professor Asimina Kiourti and Research Scientist Alexandra Bringer recently earned a $145,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health for their proposal, "Non-Invasive Wideband Radiometer for Accurate Core Temperature Monitoring.” 

Kiourti said the two-year research effort begins in July. 

The Ohio State team also consults with Wexner Medical Center Cardiovascular and Thoracic Anesthesiologist Hamdy Awad, an associate professor of anesthesiology.

“This technology eventually will save lives in the operating room,” he said.

Incidents of hypothermia affect 50- to 90-percent of surgical patients, which can increase the likelihood of cardiac arrest, blood loss leading to transfusions, and infection. 

Radiometry has previously proven beneficial to studying climate science from space and Arctic ice floe activity. 

Alexandra Bringer

Kiourti said the same technology should be applied to medical research as well.

“We have pioneered biomimetic antennas with unprecedented bandwidth and transmission efficiency. We have also successfully employed ultra-wideband radiometry to accurately infer the temperature of layered ice sheets – these models have never been attempted for medical radiometry,” she said.

Maintaining a patient’s proper core temperature while under anesthesia, especially in regards to burn or stroke patients, is important to prevent accidental hypothermic death. In other cases, anesthesia may induce malignant hyperthermia, which if not recognized and treated early, could be fatal.

Currently, thermometers are either invasively attached inside the body, or are placed directly upon the skin. Neither method is ideal for maintaining patient safety or measurement accuracy while monitoring core temperatures. 

radiometry technology

With the NIH funding, Kiourti and her team will apply their pioneering biomimetic antenna research to find out if a real-time, non-invasive, and accurate core temperature thermometer is possible. 

The study is significant because it reveals previously nonexistent knowledge on wideband radiometer models/algorithms and antenna designs for non-invasive and accurate core temperature monitoring.

The team will soon begin developing the antenna designs and algorithms for the wideband radiometer for testing on phantom tissues (a combination of ground beef and fat, among other materials) mimicking layers of the human head. 

Kiourti said the preliminary work laid out by Ohio State PhD students Jack Blauert and Katrina Guido will be instrumental in this regard.

“We envision this radiometer to be a much-needed addition to the operating room,” Kiourti said. “The expectation is to eventually link the device to other non-invasive monitors.”

by Ryan Horns, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering|