Electrical Impedance Tomography: a new study method for neonatal Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

Hippokratia 2011; 15(3):211-215

I. Chatziioannidis, T. Samaras, N. Nikolaidis


Treatment of cardiorespiratory system diseases is a procedure that usually demands data collection on terms of the anatomy and the operation of the organs that are under study. Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) is an alternative approach, in comparison to existing techniques. With EIT electrodes are placed in the perimeter of the human body and images of the estimated organ are reconstructed, using the measurement of its impendence (or resistance) distribution and determining its alteration through time, while at the same time the patient is not exposed to ionizing radiation. Its clinical use presupposes the correct placement of the electrodes over the perimeter of the human body, the rapid data collection and electrical safety. It is a low cost technique and it is implemented near the patient. It is able to determine the distribution of ventilation, blood supply, diffused or localized lung defects, but it can also estimate therapeutic interventions or alteration to assisted ventilation of the neonate. EIT was developed at the beginning of the 1980s, but it has only recently begun to be implemented on neonates, and especially in the study of their respiratory system function. The low rate of image analysis is considered to be a drawback, but it is offset by the potential offered for the estimation of lungs’ function (both under normal and pathological conditions), since ventilation and resistance are two quite similar concepts. In this review the most important studies about EIT are mentioned as a method of estimating respiratory distress syndrome in neonates. In terms of the above mentioned development, it is supposed that this technique will offer a great amount of help to the doctor in his / her estimations of the cardiorespiratory system and to his / her selection of the best intervening strategies.