Developments to Watch
NOW, BLOOD ANALYSIS IN NO TIME AT ALL
Speeding up test results for intensive-care patients could save lives. Yet, when it comes to analyzing gases in the blood, doctors are forced to wait 20 minutes or more.
Now, PPG Industries Inc. is offering quicker answers. Its biomedical division's StatPal Blood Gas Analysis System pinpoints, in about two minutes, the pH, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels of the blood. Armed with these data, doctors can more quickly make decisions to enhance their treatment of heart attacks, pneumonia, and other life-threatening illnesses.
The device simplifies a cumbersome procedure. Currently, a technician draws a blood sample, submerges it in a bucket of ice to "freeze" the blood's metabolic activity, then carries the specimen to a lab. But at less than four pounds, StatPal can travel to the patient. Its sensors are housed in a disposable syringe. Once the blood is drawn into the syringe, the sensors "read" the gas levels in seconds. Results are simultaneously displayed on a small screen and printed out. Best of all, at $3,000, the unit is one-tenth the cost of the older technology.EDITED BY EMILY T. SMITH