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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J000906/1
Title: Device to measure lung function in children and adults
Principal Investigator: Farmery, Professor AD
Other Investigators:
Hahn, Professor CEW
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Clinical Neurosciences
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2011 Ends: 31 March 2015 Value (£): 468,980
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys. Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
30 Jun 2011 Materials, Mechanical and Medical Engineering Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Patients suffering from lung diseases require lung function tests to assess the severity of their disease and to monitor the benefit of any therapy. These tests are commonly performed in specialised hospital laboratories, and require the co-operation of the patient and a rapport between the clinician and patient.

Adults and babies in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are dependent on continuous life support, and so cannot be moved to these specialised laboratories. Unfortunately therefore, those patients who would benefit most from heart-lung function tests, are the most difficult to be assessed by conventional means. This is also true for anaesthetised patients in the operating theatre, since the unconscious patient is unable to participate in volitional respiratory manoeuvres.

Severely premature babies have immature lungs and mostly require ventilation. At present, there is no clear way to determine how much inflating pressure to apply to the lungs. Too little pressure results in under-aeration, and too much causes lung trauma. There is a need to continually monitor the degree of lung inflation. A great need therefore exists for a new system to measure lung functions non-invasively.

The purpose of our research is to develop such a new medical device, made possible by recent advancements in gas sensors and flow control technologies. By using small perturbations in oxygen and nitrous oxide in the inhaled breath, and measuring the responses in real time, we can measure heart-lung function indirectly. An online computer model of the lung is used to convert sensor data to robust estimations of lung volume, ventilation, lung blood flow, and especially lung inhomogeneity. This approach eliminates the need for patients' cooperation, and also does not interfere with his/her breathing pattern.

As no similar technology currently exists, our proposed technique and device will have a large impact on UK and global health care, especially in outpatient clinics, the ICU environment, and in the operating theatre.

This new technique could significantly aid the clinicians in selecting the ventilator settings, and adjusting other therapeutic measures, to (a) "titrate" the therapy to "best effect" in any individual patient; and (b) help avoid the ever present problem of ventilator-induced lung injury worldwide. This is especially true in the early management of preterm infants who have fragile and rapidly changing lung and are at greater risk from over distension and subsequent injury.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk