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Pneumothorax is a medical condition caused by air trapped in the space between the wall of the chest cavity and the lung. It often results in reduced lung capacity or col-lapsed lung. If not treated quickly, it could cause death in minutes. Definitive diagnosis requires a chest x-ray or a CT scan, but they are not available to emergency responders. Accurate diagnosis is particularly important if a patient is to be airlifted to a treatment fa-cility because the drop in air pressure could exacerbate symptoms. There exists a strong need for a portable device that can diagnose pneumothorax quickly and in the field. Developed by a team at the Lawrence Liver-more National Laboratory (LLNL), the nonin-vasive pneumothorax detector uses ultraw-ideband (UWB) technology to diagnose this serious medical condition in seconds. The detector emits ultra-short radar pulses and captures return signals that are then digi-tized and stored in any computer. Diffraction tomography software recon-structs cross-sectional images from these data and projects into a graphical user in-terface. This battery-operated device is ide-al for trauma situations where low weight, low power consumption, and insensitivity to acoustic and electromagnet-ic noise are critical. The device is so simple to use that patients at risk of developing pneumo-thorax following a surgical pro-cedure can carry a detector to monitor their condition. ElectroSonics Medical, Inc. (EMI) is a small business based in Cleveland, Ohio. Former-ly known as BIOMEC, Inc., the company aims to accelerate the commercialization of medical device technologies through in-ternal development and collaboration with major institutions and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company has worked with LLNL to develop a prototype based on a handheld personal digital assis-tant (PDA) with a graphical user interface, and is pursuing an exclusive licensing ar-rangement with LLNL.Progress is being made in moving the UWB technology to clinical validation, and it may be “tuned” to detect other life-threatening injuries. The handheld UWB device has the potential to become a multipurpose product that would be extremely valuable to emer-gency responders.
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