With the world in a heightened state of alert, a device developed by a University of Cambridge team may one day be used to detect the pregnancy of a woman with a pregnancy-related anomaly.
The researchers hope that the technology can be used in the future to monitor a pregnant woman’s health while they wait for the baby to be born, or when she is diagnosed with a genetic disorder or illness.
The device, called an ovulation tracker, uses a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine to scan the body for a “pattern” of changes that can be detected by the device.
It can detect the presence of a heartbeat, a temperature and a chemical called testosterone.
It also can track the menstrual cycle and detect a woman’s weight.
The ovulation tracking device is part of a new generation of ultrasound devices that is helping to develop a new field called “electroencephalography” or EEG.
“The idea is that we can use this technology to learn about a woman, and then it can tell us a lot about her, about the pregnancy, about her mental health, and the risks and benefits,” Dr. Jonathan Prentice, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the University of Exeter, told the BBC.
The University of Southampton’s Dr. Sarah Jones says the technology could be useful for women with brain injuries or conditions like epilepsy.
“In those cases, the device can be put in a woman and have a really precise scan of her brain,” she said.
“So it’s not just looking at her brain; it’s actually doing some of the things that you would normally do in a normal MRI, like identifying the structural abnormalities that might be there in a brain.”
The team is currently testing their device in a group of people with epilepsy, and says it is still early days.
But Dr. Prentice said that the new device could be used by people with heart or kidney problems, or people with certain genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Jones says that ultrasound has been around for centuries and there is a lot of scientific research to support its use.
“There is a huge amount of scientific work to suggest that we should have this technology in our bodies,” she told the AP.
“It’s going to be a very interesting and challenging journey in terms of understanding these things.”