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Doctors make breakthrough in brain injuries study

Doctors in Southampton have developed a brain pressure test that can detect life-threatening head injuries and infections - without the need for surgery or spinal procedures.

The method involves patients wearing headphones with an ear plug linked to a computer, which enables doctors to measure fluid pressure in the skull.

The device known as the cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure (CCFP) analyser is being used to study healthy volunteers at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire.

"We know that high pressure inside the skull resulting from injuries and infections can be fatal, so it is essential it is detected as early as possible to avoid exacerbating symptoms and ensure treatment can begin promptly.

"Current methods for testing ICP (intracranial pressure) require procedures to be carried out under sedation or anaesthetic, which means they are limited to the most severe cases and those with less obvious initial symptoms often go undetected until their symptoms have worsened.

"However, as our CCFP (cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure) device does not require a patient to do anything other than wear a set of headphones with an ear plug, it has the potential to provide rapid, accurate and safe assessments to patients in much larger numbers than is currently possible."

– Dr Robert Marchbanks, consultant clinical scientist