New Device Monitoring Newborns

If a newborn is moved or becomes agitated while on a ventilator, the breathing tube can also move. Just a few seconds with the tube in the wrong position may lead to a critical lack of oxygen to the brain, possibly resulting in lifelong disability, brain damage, or even end the baby’s life.

If a baby’s movement affects the tube’s placement, an x-ray has to be taken all over again which can often be daily. Each unplanned extubation in pediatric patients can lead to hospital costs of $36,692 and lengthen a baby’s stay in the hospital by more than six days.

Globally, 415,000 neonates and infants require invasive mechanical ventilation per year and are intubated for greater than 24 hours. Despite reduction efforts, 75,000 or about one in five neonates and infants will experience at least one unplanned extubation in the NICU

The SonarMed ™ airway monitoring system is the first and only device of its kind. The system utilizes acoustic technology to check for endotracheal tube obstruction in real time. Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California, was the first hospital to use the SonarMed airway monitor in their NICU.

The SonarMed airway monitor is effective since its revolutionary use of soundwaves aren’t used in other medical devices. Creating soundwaves that can stay within a baby’s endotracheal tube ultimately required building a device with a tiny speaker on one end and two sensing microphones on the other end.

Sound travels from the speaker in the device to the end of the connected endotracheal tube. The airway monitor software measures the soundwaves that echo back through the microphones. This informs clinicians on a screen in real time by a flashing light plus an audible alert from the device as to where the tube is located and whether there is an obstruction.

According to Jamie W. Powers, MD, Neonatologist at the Huntington Hospital, “No other device in the world can tell you where the endotracheal tube is located within the airway continuously in real time and whether the tube is obstructed or even partially occluded.”

The Sonar Med airway monitor’s quick impact at Huntington and other hospitals attracted the attention of Medtronic, and was acquired by Medtronic in 2020. In May 2021, Medtronic, announced the U.S commercial launch of the SonarMed™ air monitoring system.

According to Tom Bumgardner, Strategic Planning Program Director, Medtronic Respiratory Interventions, and former SonarMed CEO, “When we started going to ICUs to show them the airway monitor, not everyone realized there was a problem. But when we started talking about the NICU, everyone wanted the equipment.”


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