Of the 300,000 annual global deaths from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, nearly 94% of them occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where few providers have access to effective, affordable tools to detect and identify labor risk factors as well as labor progression and the signs that require intervention.
Through its use of multichannel electrodes for electrical recordings and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for uterine surface mapping, endomyometrial imaging (EMMI) is a tool invented by our collaborators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis that characterizes the three-dimensional electrical features of uterine contractions. As designed, the tool holds promise for helping providers save lives but is largely out of reach for those in LMICs.
To simplify and automate uterine surface mapping in EMMI, as well as equip providers in LMICs with continuous monitoring capabilities throughout labor, GH Labs is developing an electrical impedance tomography (EIT) approach with strong simulation results that are now being translated to hardware measurements on physical phantoms. We also created a prototype hardware system to measure and reconstruct 3D volumes of simple physical phantoms, with electrical conductivities approximating those of the uterus and surrounding tissue.
Moving forward, our work will involve developing more complex phantoms in the shape of a pregnant torso and, ultimately, the integration of EIT with Washington University School of Medicine’s EMMI system to create a wearable electrodes format.