Near-infrared spectrophotometry (NIRS) and imaging (NIRI) are quickly growing optical methods to non-invasively and in vivo study oxygenation of human tissue. NIRS and NIRI are appreciated by patients, relatives e.g. parents, medical personnel and researchers because the methods are harmless, painless, quantitative, bedside applicable, enable continuous measurements (monitoring) and are thus well suited even for fragile and vulnerable intensive care patients.
The presentation will briefly explain the main principles of NIRS and NIRI, including the parameters that can be measured. The relevance of NIRS/NIRI measurements in research and clinics and also potential pitfalls will be discussed.
Then the main applications of NIRS and NIRI in neonatal medicine will be reviewed, e.g. measurements of the brain to avoid hyper- or hypo-oxygenation to safeguard the brain or to study brain activity and function and peripheral measurements, e.g. liver, gut, muscle. The state of these applications and their validity will be addressed.
An increasing number of commercial NIRS instruments is available and an overview will be given.
In an outlook future technical developments, which will enable to non-invasively measure other clinically important parameters such as blood flow, cytochrome oxidase redox state, water and lipids will be presented. Finally, the state of the art in tomographic NIRI with continuously increasing spatial resolution will be presented.