Measure haemoglobin without needle prick

Five Thane-based researchers have created a device that can measure haemoglobin, oxygen saturation level in the blood and monitor heart rate without the prick of a needle for just Rs5.

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Five Thane-based researchers, including two doctors, have created a device that can measure haemoglobin, oxygen saturation level in the blood and monitor heart rate without the prick of a needle for just Rs5.

The device, TouchHb, will be available from February 2012 and will be especially beneficial to pregnant women who are anaemic and scared of using the needle.

It took three years for Mysikin Ingawale, Dr Abhishek Sen, Dr Yogesh Patil, Dr Darshan Nayak and Aman Midha who formed a company called Biosense Technologies Private Limited to create the device.

TouchHb comes with a probe into which the finger is inserted. When light-emitting diodes in the probe shine light through the nail, a photodiode on the other end interprets the absorption patterns to produce an instant reading of the volume of haemoglobin in the patient’s blood. 

The hand-held, battery-operated device weighs around 300gm and can diagnose anaemia in less than a minute. TouchHb will be launched at the world’s biggest TED Conference in California in February 2012. 

“It is a really welcoming research. In India, it is common for pregnant women to be anaemic. But now they can know their haemoglobin levels without the prick of a needle. Now we can also start giving them iron supplements and injections on the basis of this test. During delivery, there is a chance of loss of blood and if we do not treat women for anaemia at the right time, it can prove fatal,” said Dr Rekha Davar, head of gynaecology department at JJ hospital.

Dr Davar said the device will be more useful in rural India where women are scared of being pricked by needles. The researchers, however, said that women must check their haemoglobin levels three to four times during and after pregnancy.

Data by the World Health Organisation shows that having low haemoglobin in the blood affects more than half of children below the age of five and pregnant women in developing countries.

The disorder, which remains the biggest indirect cause of maternal mortality in these countries, weakens the blood’s ability to clot, increasing the risk of postpartum haemorrhage.

“The idea to create the innovative device came after we completed our MBBS from Nair hospital. For our internship, Dr Abhishek Sen and I were sent to rural areas where we saw that most pregnant women were scared of being pricked by needles. They did not undergo the test and as a result suffered heavy loss of blood leading to maternal mortality of the child as well as the women. That is when we decided to make a device that can test haemoglobin without using a needle,” said Dr Yogesh Patil, co-founder of Biosense Technologies.  

Dr Patil said discovering TouchHb was a dream come true. “We made this device and after doing several trials at Nair hospital. It can measure both haemoglobin and oxygen saturation in the blood. The cost of TouchHb is nearly Rs15,000 and 3,000 tests can be carried out with it after which the probe must be changed,” he said.

Experts have lauded the device calling it a revolutionary one that will be beneficial to many people.

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