Texas MRC Research Projects


We propose to employ near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) technology to continually map hemorrhagic contusions on the surface of the brain after traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is a novel approach for monitoring the evolution of contusions, while validating results with computed tomography (CT). In contrast to CT that can only be performed infrequently, NIRS will enable the continual bedside monitoring of contusion evolution that is of critical clinical importance for life saving interventions. In parallel with our clinical goal, we propose to build and test a NIRS imaging instrument prototype that is designed to overcome current commercial technology limitations and have the capacity to alert clinical staff in real time when contusions grow rapidly. This technology is foreseen to be of immediate interest to the military, sports medicine personnel and clinicians across all trauma ICU facilities.

Georgios Alexandrakis, Ph.D. UTA
Associate Professor – Bioengineering

Duncan L. MacFarlane, Ph.D. UTD
David C. Smith, M.D. THR

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Navigation around an organ during surgery is not an easy task as the visual view is not always reliable. Visual clarity is often limited due to existence of blood and fat tissues. Also, every case and every organ is unique in terms of size, shape, location and so on. In particular, in 10-20% of the open heart surgery cases, surgeons have difficulty locating the exact blood vessel with the blockage.
Our proposal is to design an imaging system that helps surgeons to navigate easier and more accurately around the heart especially during bypass surgeries. Our twin goals will be to:
(a) find/design a small set of markers (e.g. colored and/or RFID-based) that provide a clear indication of their positions, and
(b) use the markers and a hand-held device to produce the 3D image of the organ with accurate tracing of the markers and device.
Achieving these goals will require design of markers, a navigational hand-held device and the use of image processing techniques to overlay a pre-recorded X-ray (or MRI) image with real-time images from a camera during surgery.

Principal Investigator:
Mehrdad Nourani, Ph.D. UTD
Professor & Associate Department Head – Electrical Engineering

Kambiz Alavi, Ph.D.
James B. Park, Ph.D.

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We propose to build and test an imaging instrument prototype that uses near‐infrared light to map changes in blood oxygenation on the surface of the brain after traumatic brain injury (TBI) has occurred. This instrument will address the immediate clinical need for a non‐invasive technology capable of alerting the attending clinical staff when a rising intracranial fluid pressure event has occurred after TBI. These events can occur rapidly and unexpectedly at anytime up to a few days post‐trauma. The rising pressure events result in the collapse of blood vessels supplying oxygen to the brain, which often leads to permanent brain damage or death. The current standard of care is a very invasive procedure that involves placing a pressure transducer through a catheter inside the brain, which is very traumatic and has been shown to result in increased morbidity. (more…)

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Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers; it accounts for nearly 40% of all cancer cases, and its incidence is increasing. Suspicious skin lesions are often biopsied, a procedure that is unpleasant for the patient and slow to yield diagnostic results. In addition, the rate of unnecessary biopsies is as high as 50% or higher, causing needless mental stress and health care burden. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop a fast, accurate, and noninvasive detection method to minimize unnecessary biopsies as well as to improve false negatives that are missed by dermatologists. The hypothesis for this study is that a portable, high spatial resolution, hyper-spectral imaging system (HSIS) can be implemented, validated and translated to clinics for fast and accurate detection of skin cancer, possibly as an electronic second opinion. (more…)

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We propose to advance the state of the art in functional near infrared (fNIR) brain imaging and make a routine clinical tool grade system to help guide treatment decisions in children with cerebral palsy (CP). CP is the most common motor deficit in children. It profoundly affects a child’s ability to develop age-typical motor skills and to engage fully in play, exploration and self-help activities. Currently, physicians have no easy way of monitoring functional activity in children with CP and as a result there is little intuition into how each individual child could be helped. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) requires the patients’ complete body confinement and steadiness for a long period of time. Due to this stringent requirement, fMRI has ~50% success rate in normal children and is likely to have substantially lower success rates in children with CP due to the patients’ involuntary movements.


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