Student’s measure could ease patients’ plight  

An Edinburgh student has helped to develop a new method that monitors the recovery of patients with serious lung injury.

The new measure lets medical staff quickly and accurately assess how well a damaged lung is performing its key task – getting oxygen into the bloodstream.

Third year Biomedical Sciences undergraduate Emma Chang has also helped to evaluate the computer-based system.

Emma Chang

Injuries assessed

It will enable doctors and nurses to better assess injuries and could also help them more accurately predict patient outcomes. 

A bank of 100,000 blood samples from critically iII patients was used to test the results of oxygen level measurements from the new test compared with existing methods.

Accurate method

Researchers found their method to be twice as accurate as the next best alternative at predicting patients’ blood oxygen levels.

Existing methods often produce misleading results because they do riot take account of the irregular way in which oxygen is carried in blood — only reaching capacity in some parts of the lung.

The new method, called Effective Shunt or ES, involves a computer analysing the results of a blood test taken from a patient’s arm or leg.

Our findings suggest ES is a better way to help patients. This is the first step on a long road – there is a lot of work to do before it is widely adopted.

Emma ChangMedical student

App created

The team has created an app to calculate ES, which is available for free:

Emma worked with a team of physiologists and computational scientists. Details of the method are published in the journal, Intensive Care Medicine Experimental.

Emma studying for a MedSci (Hons) in Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine.

This study demonstrates the value of close collaboration between medical researchers and experts who are working computational science.

Kenneth BaillieSenior Clinical Research Fellow

Related links

 Biomedical Sciences programmes

App to calculate ES