Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. Current mammography screening techniques, which use polychromatic X-ray sources and compression techniques to obtain images of the breast, have a number of shortcomings.
This E-Team developed a compressionless monochromatic 3D mammography screening system to improve on the old model. The Patient Rotation System is a model table on which a patient can be rotated to allow the system to produce accurate three-dimensional images. The team made the table movable, able to rotate with the breast as a center point in order to easily screen the breast and chest wall, and improved the comfort of the experience for mammography patients.
Since its inception, the Design of Biomedical Engineering Devices and Systems I and II capstone course, required for all biomedical students, has evolved into a two-semester course. At the onset of the course, students learn from lectures and then transition to team projects. Students divide themselves into teams and choose a project from a list solicited from engineering and medical faculty and staff as well as from industrial sources. Currently, few students carry their projects beyond the confines of the course.
With added support, E-Teams have the opportunity to extend the scope of their projects beyond the classroom. The new course integrates the engineering and life science backgrounds of senior biomedical engineering students. Students learn design principles and discuss solutions to design problems in medical devices and systems. Guest lecturers cover some topics of interest, such as database design and entrepreneurship. The director of the Own Graduate School of Management has expressed interest in lecturing and possible involving entrepreneurship students in E-Teams. Example projects include genetic identification of hazardous indoor air organisms, a leg compression device to assist in ultra-sound testing, ergonomic chair design, and an O.R. X-ray sighting system.
For more information on Vanderbilt's Biomedical Engineering Program, visit their website
Approximately 2,500 infants suffered Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1998. Although decreasing, the numbers of SIDS cases is still quite large. Caregivers typically discover the occurrence of SIDS when they check on a sleeping infant. Closely monitoring an infant's breathing gives warning when a problem arises. Breath monitoring is also necessary in other medical cases, such as post-operative patients who have received anesthesia and sleep apnea patients.
The Breath-Alert device, developed by an E-Team of two MBA students and two graduate students in biomedical engineering, is a general purpose breath monitoring system appropriate for post-operative patients, sleep apnea patients, and infants at risk of SIDS. The device measures carbon dioxide levels to determine whether or not the patient is breathing. Carbon dioxide absorbs light in the 4.2 to 4.4 bandwidth, so the device uses infrared (IR) light to detect carbon dioxide in the ambient air around the patient. Breath-Alert positions an IR source tuned to the appropriate wavelength and power to shine its beam through the exhaled volume of gas. A parabolic reflector placed opposite the source concentrates the IR light at its focal point, and an IR sensor at the focal point detects the transmitted light. A simple algorithm processes the IR transmission data and signals an alarm when breathing ceases.