Over three million US children per year are put under sedation in dental offices. While sedation keeps children calm and still during procedures ranging from cleanings to tooth extractions, it also has potentially fatal consequences. Thirty-three percent of adverse events related to pediatric sedation occur in the dental setting, with 91% of the adverse events resulting in death or permanent neurological injury. Further, 80% of the adverse events involved respiratory problems, since sedatives blunt respiratory drive and relax the upper airway musculature.
This E-Team is developing a device that monitors a child’s breathing while he or she is under the influence of sedatives. The small, wearable, disposable device, called PhonoSafe, alerts the dentist of sub-optimal breathing that lasts longer than fifteen seconds. It consists of a microphone placed on the throat at the level of the trachea to detect breathing sounds, hardware for signal processing to isolate the sounds from ambient noise, and software to analyze the respiratory rate and detect apnea (lack of breathing).