NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Brain scan software 'could save lives of soldiers'

Brain injury scan Image copyright Science Photo Library

New brain scanning software being developed by the University of Aberdeen could save the lives of soldiers on the front line, experts believe.

The portable ultrasound scanner is aimed at better detecting injuries such as bleeding on the brain.

The team is working on the technology with the Ministry of Defence's science and technology laboratory (DSTL).

The device - much smaller than an MRI scanner - would create a 3D model of the brain on location.

'Clear need'

It could then be used for swift diagnosis.

The initial aim of the project is to better diagnose head injuries among soldiers, but it could also be used in everyday medical care.

Researchers working on the project said soldiers with unseen head injuries could be overlooked in battlefield situations.

Dr Leila Eadie, a researcher at the Centre for Rural Health at the University of Aberdeen, said: "There is a clear need for this technology.

"Traumatic brain injury is a big problem for the military, especially because it can be difficult to spot in the field and if left untreated, it can have long-term effects.

"Ultrasound is not normally used for imaging the brain, but we hope to prove through further investigations that it is a viable method of making an early diagnosis of head injury whilst in the field."

'Best care'

She added: "Battlefield medics will not have CT or MRI scanners which are bulky and expensive, but they are likely to have ultrasound equipment already, so it is a case of extending the use of the kit they already have."

DSTL capability adviser Neal Smith said: "UK Armed Forces operate in many remote locations and where personnel are injured we need to ensure that all conditions can be rapidly and correctly diagnosed to provide the best possible treatment and care.

"Devices which are lightweight, easy to deploy and easy to use, such as the portable ultrasound scanning support system being developed by the University of Aberdeen, have the potential to enhance our capabilities on operations and enhance patient care."

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