New Device Shows Promise in Predicting Diabetic Wound Healing Times

Researchers at Drexel University’s School of Biomedical
Engineering, Science and Health Systems have developed a device that could have
profound effects on the treatment of diabetic wounds. These effects likely
would trickle down to also reduce costs and increase the efficiency of
wound-healing treatment plans.

  Elizabeth S. Papazoglou
  Elizabeth S. Papazoglou

About 150,000 amputations a year result from complex wounds, while about
80,000 are attributed to diabetes and peripheral arterial disease, according to
a press release. Additionally, it is estimated that complex wounds account for
$20 billion in health care expenditures annually.

“Chronic wounds are an extremely traumatic, costly and debilitating
disorder,” Elizabeth S. Papazoglou, PhD, lead study author, told
O&P Business News. “Comorbidities further complicate this issue
and only add to the cost. While much effort is being made to discover new and
novel wound- healing techniques and modalities, little has been done to give a
more objective view on the efficacy of these treatments. Wound size reduction
can be deceptive because it provides little insight about the actual underlying
structures and health of the tissue.”

Papazoglou led the research team, which sought to quantify oxygenated
and deoxygenated hemoglobin levels to provide a method to assess the
functionality and efficacy of new wound healing treatments. The device they
have developed measures the level of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin
within and under a wound and compares it to a control/non-wound site of the
same patient.

Based on a human study conducted at the Wound Clinic of the Drexel
College of Medicine, the course of oxygenated hemoglobin change was found to be
a strong indicator of wound healing. Using near-infrared technology,
researchers were able to analyze tissues by measuring optical absorption and
scattering coefficients.

According to the press release, because light is able to penetrate
several centimeters into the ischemic tissue due to low absorption of
hemoglobin, researchers are able to measure the levels of oxygenated and
deoxygenated hemoglobin. Distinct absorption spectra allow for determinations
of absolute concentrations.

“This new information could lead to reduced time spent
administering an ineffective treatment plan for a patient,” Papazoglou, an
assistant professor at the School of Biomedical Engineering at Drexel
University, explained. “Within several weeks this device can predict if a
treatment path is leading towards healing or not, and if not, can guide the
physician towards possibly changing the treatment plan. This will reduce
treatment time, costs and improve quality of care.”

Papazoglou, too, stressed that this device is meant as a tool to
continue to deliver quality patient care and that should be considered.

“The clinical expertise and experience of a physician is always of
the utmost value and cannot be overlooked,” Papazoglou explained adding
that she hopes the device can provide additional information for physicians
when making decisions regarding treatment plans.

“The test itself takes just a few minutes and is completely
painless for the patient,” she said. “It is another step towards
evidence-based medicine with an easy-to-operate, relatively inexpensive

This new device could also predict wound healing due to therapy
approximately 50% earlier than conventional methods. The device is one step
closer to market. In late August it was licensed through Emunamedica LLC,
according to a Drexel press release. — by Jennifer Hoydicz

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