A Tool to Predict Pressure Ulcers in Subjects with Spinal Cord Injury

J.V. Jokerst
University of California, San Diego, United States

Keywords: spinal cord injury, pressure ulcer, bedsores, ultrasound, photoacoustics

Chronic wounds including diabetic ulcers and decubitus ulcers are a major health concern, but tools to diagnose these wounds before they have erupted or evaluate deep tissue response to therapy have remained elusive. Treatment is more expensive than prevention, but there are few tools to identify early stage disease. Indeed, visual inspection remains the standard of care for detection early stage ulcers, but it cannot map the altered tissue in three dimensions nor can it quantify the aberrant physiology underlying the ulcer. Current approaches to preventing decubitus ulcers are labor-intensive monitoring and repositioning. While pressure-sensitive devices can identify when a pressure threshold has been reached, there is no correlation between amount/duration of pressure and ulcer development. What is missing is information on changes in tissue physiology and not simply a brute metric such as pressure. This work will use photoacoustic ultrasound to create a detailed map of the tissue physiology at the wound site or site of a potential wound. This can then report the exact site needing treatment or how a site is responding to treatment.