In today’s medical field, doctors rely on electrocardiograms (ECG) to monitor fetal heart rate and overall fetal health during labor. ECG readings, although accurate, tend to be very difficult to interpret and consequently tell doctors very little in terms of fetal distress levels during labor. Due to this lack of specificity, physicians often turn to emergency intervention by performing Cesarean sections (C-sections). Nearly half of these C-sections are unnecessary which poses extreme risks to the fetus and the mother, and is a financial burden on insurance companies as well. To combat these issues, our team proposes pHetal Meter, a handheld device that can give a rapid, bedside reading of fetal blood pH. Fetal blood pH levels are currently the gold standard for early detection of fetal distress during labor. The device will be able to quickly and accurately detect whether or not the fetus is in distress. Our device will be nurse-operable, cause little to no pain or discomfort to the mother, and allow for faster and more direct results. When used alongside current technology, physicians will no longer need to guess whether an emergency C-section is necessary, and will be able to rapidly determine fetal distress levels. pHetal Meter uniquely bridges an unmet medical need by quickly and accurately determining intrapartum fetal health, and drastically lowering the risks and costs incurred by unnecessary C-sections.
Advisors: Christine King, Ph.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering
Dinh Vu, MD, MBA, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Saddleback Medical Center
Department of Biomedical engineering and material Science Engineering, University of California Irvine