Fibre Optic Blood Flow Sensing for Clinical Applications

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Medical Physics and Biomedical Eng


According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease and associated acute cardiovascular events are the leading cause of death in the developed world. More accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of cardiovascular disease could help to prevent millions of deaths worldwide every year.

A means to accurately quantify flow in the coronary arteries would greatly improve the treatment and monitoring of people with cardiovascular conditions. If clinicians could get an accurate measurement of the flow, it would give a better picture of the disease a person may have and the level of any obstruction within the coronary arteries. So far, a suitable technique has not been developed. Doppler guide wires have not been particularly successful in the clinic for a variety of reasons. MRI flow quantification requires the use of an MRI scanner, which is an expensive imaging modality and is not practical for use during surgery. X-ray fluoroscopy has varying results depending on the orientation of the vessels and involves the use of ionising radiation, which is undesirable.

Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of the MRes project is to develop an optical sensor for detecting flow using a volumetric method.

For the first part of my project, I will conduct a review of the literature on flow sensing using optical methods, to see what work has already been done in the field, what methods have been used and what experiments have been done. This review will cover both the medical applications that my project is aimed at, as well as the non-medical applications, such as gas flow sensing within engineering fields. I will cover both areas because the principle behind the flow sensing is the same or similar in both cases, and developments in one field could help the other.

Once I have completed the literature review, I will be developing sensors of my own, for optical detection of continuous / volumetric flow and I will make these myself in the lab. The volumetric flow sensors complement Elizabeth Carr's research on time-gated flow, so I will be involved in Elizabeth's experiments. Initially, the time-gated flow experiments will be done in phantoms, but then we aim to move in vivo, in animals in the lab. Once the time gated flow sensors have been successfully implemented, I will move on to focus on volumetric flow sensors. A key part of my project will be to develop new phantoms and test paradigms for sensors; this will involve collaborating with the clinicians who will hopefully use our technology, if it is successfully developed. The final stage of my project will be to test the volumetric flow sensors developed in the phantoms created.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509577/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1922784 Studentship EP/N509577/1 25/09/2017 25/09/2021 Eleanor Mackle