March 13 : Researchers have recently found out that an imaging technique used to detect some forms of cancer can also help detect preeclampsia in pregnant women before it becomes a life threatening condition.
Preeclampsia is a hypertensive disorder that accounts life-threatening recent of global maternal deaths per year and affects 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies. The symptoms of the disease may include high blood pressure and protein in the urine and can normally occur after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The study was conducted with a team of graduate students and researchers with the Tulane School of Medicine and Tulane School of Medicine and Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Researchers conducted the study on pregnant rats using spectral photoacoustic imaging, a noninvasive procedure that can detect placental ischemia, a sign of possible preeclampsia, right before the onset of symptoms, like high blood pressure, severe headaches, and dizziness.
Photoacoustic images were acquired of the placenta of normal pregnant rats and rats affected with preeclampsia on various days of gestation. Two days after inducing preeclampsia, it was observed that the average placental oxygenation was reduced to 12 percent in comparison to normal pregnant rats.
According to one researcher, spectral photoacoustic imaging is a powerful pre-clinical tool that has many promising applications in the study and treatment of pregnancy related diseases.
Also this method provides new imaging techniques to look at the progression of the disease through gestation which could also be a better way to determine which patients might need interventions to treat the preeclampsia.
And because the method is a noninvasive procedure, it poses very little to no risk to the fetus compared to another method cordocentesis, a fetal blood sampling that is comparatively much more dangerous.
The Photoacoustic imaging process can also be stretched as far as to detect breast, ovarian and other types of cancers.
Source : https://news.tulane.edu/pr/pregnancy-disorder-subject-new-tulane-study