New technology to save lives of cancer patients

​Small sensors on the body of cancer patients who have just undergone an operation will enable early intervention in the event of complications. The technology is being developed collaboratively between the Technical University of Denmark and the Capital Region of Denmark, and it has just received a major grant from the Danish Cancer Society.

When a patient undergoes surgery for cancer of the abdominal cavity, there is a great risk of subsequent complications. One-third of newly operated patients suffer serious complications and many of these are fatal.
 
A number of small sensors attached to the body will help physicians to discover complications faster, so that they can be treated before they become more serious. 

“Unfortunately, today operations in the abdominal cavity are very risky. And we are seeing this type of cancer more and more. Reducing this risk will be a giant leap forward in securing better and more effective treatment."

"The new technology shows great potential and we’re very excited about getting started,” said Eske Aasvang MD, Senior House Officer at Rigshospitalet.

“Even though hospitals already keep a close eye on vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure and oxygen saturation, we know that the patient’s condition can rapidly deteriorate without personnel noticing."

"Furthermore, a large number of serious complications can arise in the heart and blood circulation, without the newly operated patient feeling symptoms. Therefore, close monitoring can be extremely beneficial,” explained Christian S. Meyhoff PhD, research physician at Bispebjerg Hospital.

New computer algorithms enable rapid intervention

Today, vital signs are usually only monitored every 12 hours, but the new technology makes it possible to monitor all vital signs constantly. Therefore, with the right biomedical computer algorithm, it is possible to discover early on when these signs change and then alert hospital personnel so that complications can be avoided. 

“Over the next four years, we’ll be working to develop a new method using data from 400 patients after their cancer operation. The measurements we collect will be analysed and compared with the serious complications that arise for some patients after an operation."

"The analysis will help us understand the signals the body the sends out before the complications set in. We’ll then use the signals to develop a clinical support system in the shape of computer alogarithms for 24/7 monitoring that will make it possible to send a message to health staff when something menacing is developing."

"This will enable us to take action and prevent serious complications from developing,” explained Helge Bjarup Dissing Sørensen, a researcher from DTU Electrical Engineering. 

The research will be conducted in collaboration with physicians Christian S. Meyhoff and Eske Aasvang from Bispebjerg Hospital and Rigshospitalet, respectively and it will be monitored by Denmark’s leading professors in cancer surgery, Lars Nannestad Jørgensen and Lars Bo Svendsen.

It is hoped that the project will significantly reduce the risks associated with operations for cancer of the abdominal cavity. 

“In the longer term, our ambition is that it’ll also be possible to use the new method for other types of patient who undergo complicated operations,” concluded Mr. Bjarup Dissing Sørensen.  

Facts:

  • The project has received a total of DKK 3.2 million, including DKK 2.1 mill. from the Danish Cancer Society under the ‘Knæk Cancer’ campaign.

  • Around 9,000 Danes are operated on every year for cancer of the abdominal cavity. Of these, around 3,000 suffer serious complications, about 500 of which are lethal. 

  • The project started in December 2016 and is planned for completion in November 2020.

Further information:

  • Assoc. Prof. Helge Bjarup Dissing Sørensen PhD, DTU Elektro, email: hbs@elektro.dtu.dk; tel.: +45 45 25 52 44 or +45 23 82 33 84.

  • Dr. Christian S. Meyhoff PhD, Department of Anesthaesiology, Bispebjerg Hospital, email: christianmeyhoff@gmail.com, tel.: +45 22 98 50 42.

  • Dr. Eske Aasvang, Senior House Officer, Anaesthesiology Clinic, Abdominal Centre, Rigshospitalet, email: eske.aas@gmail.com, tel.: +45 26 23 20 76


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