Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Scanner May Save Lives; University Engineers Develop Pregnancy Testing Device

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Scanner May Save Lives; University Engineers Develop Pregnancy Testing Device

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanne Butcher

ENGINEERS at Newcastle University have developed a new pregnancy scanner which could save the lives of countless women and babies.

The ultra-low cost scanner can be plugged into any computer or laptop to reveal vital information about the unborn child.

Roughly the size of a computer mouse, the hand-held USB device works in a similar way to existing ultrasound scanners, using pulses of high frequency sound to build up a picture of the unborn child on the computer screen.

But it can be bought at a fraction of the cost ... just pounds 30 to pounds 40 rather than the tens of thousands of pounds for the ultrasound technology used in most UK hospitals.

Jeff Neasham, who developed the scanner alongside research associate Dave Graham, was inspired to come up with the design after accompanying his wife Zoe to antenatal scans.

The father-of-two from Newcastle, a sonar expert based in the university's school of electrical and electronic engineering, said the device would complement rather than replace high-performance scanners available in hospitals.

"The project started around seven years ago when I was going through the experience of becoming a father," explained Mr Neasham, whose children are aged seven and three.

"I was sat with my wife looking at our child on the screen, and we realised how privileged we were to have access to this kind of care. It was my wife who suggested I could apply my knowledge from sonar research to try to make this more affordable."

Tested by experts in the Regional Medical Physics Department at the Freeman Hospital, the scanner produces an output power that is 10-100 times lower than conventional hospital ultrasounds.

It is now hoped the device will be used to provide medical teams working in the world's poorest nations with basic antenatal information that could save hundreds of thousands of lives. …

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