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Reducing new-born sepsis mortality with a new optical sensor

Project summary

Blood stream infection, or sepsis, is the largest cause of mortality and morbidity for newborns admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Despite the fact that treatments for sepsis are available, the detection of sepsis is very difficult. As a consequence sepsis has often progressed into a life-threatening disease by the time treatment is started. There is evidence that the small blood vessels in our organs and skin (the microcirculation) are affected by sepsis at a very early stage of the disease process. Elfi-Tech Ltd. has recently developed a prototype sensor containing miniaturized dynamic light scattering technology that is able to measure movement of red blood cells in the skin microcirculation noninvasively. In a collaboration between Erasmus MC and Elfi-Tech Ltd., this project aims to develop a prototype system for the detection of sepsis in newborns using dynamic light scattering
technology. Worldwide 5% of all newborns are born prematurely, often requiring intensive care. Neonatal sepsis adds a long
period of severe illness to a potentially uncomplicated postnatal hospital stay. The incidence of sepsis in the NICU population is between 20% and 25%, resulting in a mortality rate of 10% to 30% in septic neonates. Besides the increased hospitalization and mortality, neonatal sepsis causes significant comorbidities. The most prevalent comorbidities
are life-long, such as the negative influence on intellectual development and behavior.
By using information from measurements with dynamic light scattering in actual newborns with sepsis, a noninvasive detection system will be created. The technology developed in this project allows for a low-cost and easily usable device with a high impact on healthcare and disease outcome.


The end product of this project is a prototype system integrating dynamic light scattering measurements with a neonatal sepsis detection algorithm that is ready for clinical evaluation.

More detailed information

Principal Investigator:

Role Erasmus MC:




Project website:

Not available

Funding Agency:

Health Holland