Phantom studies of micro-impulse radar detection of cranial hematomas

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious health problem that can lead to permanent disability or death. A TBI may cause two major types of intra-cranial hemorrhage: subdural hematoma (SDH) and epidural hematoma (EDH). Subdural hematomas are the most common. Acute SDH/EDHs are associated with a high mortality rate, thus requiring immediate surgical treatment. Complications due to an SDH/EDH include seizures, temporary or permanent numbness, dizziness, headaches, coma, and death. The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is the most commonly used method of diagnosis to determine if a person needs to be hospitalized to test for the presence of an SDH/EDH. Current technologies, computer tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to detect an SDH/EDH require the patient to be hospitalized. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory currently is developing a portable device that uses micro-power impulse radar (MIR) to help in the rapid detection of SDH/EDHs. The device, which is currently undergoing clinical trials, has successfully detected a large EDH. This thesis describes a phantom study performed to determine the possibility of detecting an intracranial hematoma as small as 1 cc using the device. If a small hematoma is diagnosed, the device would allow for constant monitoring for further volume growth. A bench top experiment used porcine brain tissue, blood, and the upper portion of a human skull to simulate a human head. A latex pouch containing blood was used to simulate an intracranial hematoma. The data obtained showed that the hematoma detector was able to detect an SDH as small as 1 cc. The hematoma volume was incremented in volume to observe the effects it had on the return signal. It was observed that as the hematoma volume was increased, the detected return signal amplitude was altered in a non-linear manner.