Engineers at Rice University developed a breakthrough technology that measures human blood flow to the capillaries in real-time. Hardware called the PulseCam combines high-resolution video with pulse oximeter data. Algorithms in a patented process that creates blood perfusion maps based on the PulseCam data.

In a paper in Scientific Reports, the creators covered the use of the platform in multiple clinical applications. One of the PulseCam demonstrations in the report monitored blood perfusion as patients underwent general anesthesia. Another project involved measuring blood perfusion in the hands of subjects undergoing noninvasive diagnostic testing with a blood pressure cuff on the upper arm. One of the results of the latter demonstration was the ability to identify partially blocked veins.

One researcher noted that the PulseCam ability to record slight changes in pressure in capillaries has a direct effect on the quality of care for patients with deep vein thrombosis. Other technologies can detect reduced blood flow, he said, but PulseCam can quantify the difference, providing critical clinical information.

The Rice team pointed to the potential for further studies of blood perfusion imaging with PulseCam at additional locations on the body. The camera could also measure perfusion of internal tissues if attached to an endoscope or laparoscope to obtain clinical information about organs and processes.