Many urgent medical settings require immediate assessment of intravascular volume status to initiate treatment and non-invasive monitoring of progressive changes in volume. Other diagnostic medical scenarios require urgent identification of impairment of ventricular function, to select appropriate initial treatment. With standard approaches, accessing this information quantitatively requires expert cardiological involvement, which introduces potentially harmful delay and unnecessary cost.
My research is a high-risk leap in the opposite direction to the obvious avenue. Instead of using increasingly difficult measurements to study an increasingly narrow range of specifically cardiac conditions, I will harness physiological knowledge with technological advances, to develop and validate devices that a novice can reliably use with little training, to make limited but reliable and clinically useful quantitative measurements. Specifically, I aim to:
• develop unique tools that support health care professionals with minimal training, to reliably acquire a limited set of echo measurements in patients
• experimentally verify the ability of novices to thereby track changes in volume status
• experimentally verify the ability of novices to detect abnormalities in ventricular function
The immediate impact of this research will be the development, and evaluation by clinical physiological experiments, of a system that guides a novice operator to obtain good images, and helps them to detect ventricular dysfunction and disorders of fluid status.
There will be numerous auxiliary benefits of this work. One will be the support tools for trainee echocardiographers/cardiologists who could get automatic, personalised guidance in improving image positioning in the early months of their work, making it easier to train these individuals who are in very short supply. Secondly, clinical practices and trials can use these tools to express image quality of echo measurements.
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