Brain injury in the newborn remains a major cause of death and serious lifelong disability, with alterations in cerebral perfusion and oxygenation implicated in the pathophysiology of injury in both preterm and term infants. Near-infrared light shows a strong absorption dependency on oxygenation state and provides a safe, non-invasive means of monitoring cerebral function at the cotside. Improved continuous quantification in newer generation instruments are an important step in developing clinically useful monitors. Multi-channel systems allow images of the haemodynamic response to functional activation to be reconstructed.
A collaborative group, neoLAB, has been created between Cambridge and University College London (UCL) with the aim of developing and refining optical systems to study the development of haemodynamic activity in the developing brain.
A frequency multiplexed optical topography system, designed and built at UCL, has been used to study novel haemodynamic events associated with seizures in the newborn. Work is currently being undertaken to look at the development of functional resting state cortical networks.
The UCL group has also developed the first 3D optical imaging system. The optical tomography system uses time-correlated single photon counting (TCSPC) technology to measure the flight times of photons as they are transmitted between points on the surface in order to generate 3D images of regional blood volume and oxygenation.
The latest generation of this system has a significantly improved time resolution designed to capture dynamic changes in regional blood flow associated with functional activation.