Measurement of total hemoglobin concentration [Hgb] is a blood test that is widely used to evaluate outpatients, hospital inpatients, and surgical patients, especially those undergoing surgery associated with extensive blood loss, rapid fluid administration, and transfusion of packed red blood cells. Current techniques for measurement of [Hgb] are invasive (requiring blood sampling) and cannot provide real-time, continuous monitoring. We propose to use an optoacoustic technique for noninvasive and continuous monitoring of [Hgb]. The high resolution of the optoacoustic technique may provide accurate measurement of [Hgb] by detection and analysis of optoacoustic signals induced by short optical pulses in blood circulating in arteries or veins. We designed, built, and tested in vitro (in both tissue phantoms and in preliminary in vivo experiments) a portable optoacoustic system for the monitoring of [Hgb] in the radial artery. The system includes a nanosecond laser operating in the near-infrared spectral range and a sensitive optoacoustic probe designed to irradiate the radial artery through the skin and detect optoacoustic signals induced in blood. Results of our studies demonstrated that (1) the slope of optoacoustic waves induced in blood in the transmission mode is linearly dependent on [Hgb] in the range from 6.2 to 12.4 g/dl, (2) optoacoustic signals can be detected despite optical attenuation in turbid tissue phantoms with a thickness of 1 cm, and (3) the optoacoustic system detects signals induced in blood circulating in the radial artery. These data suggest that the optoacoustic system can be used for accurate, noninvasive, real-time, and continuous monitoring of [Hgb].
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