International Perfusion Association


Early Blood Clot Detection Using Forward Scattering Light Measurements Is Not Superior to Delta Pressure Measurements

The occurrence of thrombus formation within an extracorporeal membrane oxygenator is a common complication during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy and can rapidly result in a life-threatening situation due to arterial thromboembolism, causing stroke, pulmonary embolism, and limb ischemia in the patient. The standard clinical practice is to monitor the pressure at the inlet and outlet of oxygenators, indicating fulminant, obstructive clot formation indicated by an increasing pressure difference (ΔP). However, smaller blood clots at early stages are not detectable. Therefore, there is an unmet need for sensors that can detect blood clots at an early stage to minimize the associated thromboembolic risks for patients. This study aimed to evaluate if forward scattered light (FSL) measurements can be used for early blood clot detection and if it is superior to the current clinical gold standard (pressure measurements). A miniaturized in vitro test circuit, including a custom-made test chamber, was used. Heparinized human whole blood was circulated through the test circuit until clot formation occurred. Four LEDs and four photodiodes were placed along the sidewall of the test chamber in different positions for FSL measurements. The pressure monitor was connected to the inlet and the outlet to detect changes in ΔP across the test chamber. Despite several modifications in the LED positions on the test chamber, the FSL measurements could not reliably detect a blood clot within the in vitro test circuit, although the pressure measurements used as the current clinical gold standard detected fulminant clot formation in 11 independent experiments.

Keywords: blood clot detection; forward scattered light measurement; in vitro test; membrane oxygenator; sensor.

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