Measuring the propensity of blood to clot
Haemair set out to develop a complete portable extracorporeal life support system with pump, oxygenator, control system and instrumentation. One of the instruments that we set out to develop was a blood rheometer to measure the tendency of blood to clot. We considered that such an instrument would be important to ensure that no clots, or incipient clots, were returned to the patient. The instrument was designed around the understanding that, in clotting, blood changes from a viscoelastic liquid to a viscoelastic solid.
The clotting process starts as soon as blood leaves the blood vessels; the rate of change depends on the flow path taken and the surfaces contacted by the blood. We recognized that, in passing through an ECLS circuit, the blood clotting process is initiated and, if the process progresses too far, incipient clots may be a danger to patients.
To take our initial ideas further, a team with a broader skill set was needed. Accordingly, the project has passed to a specialist rheology company (Haemograph Pty Ltd) which has built on and substantially advanced and improved on our initial ideas. Haemograph is developing small quick-response portable point-of-care instruments to measure the extent of change and the propensity of blood to clot. They have identified a much wider range of applications including providing an early marker for Sepsis and a number of non-biological applications.