For doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals, predicting the severity of traumatic brain injuries is crucial.
The information they can glean from a simple pupil diameter measurement can help them determine whether someone needs surgery or just observation, and it can also help them anticipate what kind of recovery patients might experience after their injury.
This article will explore the science behind how pupil diameters are used to predict the severity of traumatic brain injuries, what impact it has on patient care, and how new technology might change this process in the future.
Pupil response assessment in the emergency department
Medical professionals in the emergency department are often tasked with determining whether a patient has suffered a brain injury. Here, the most important thing to know is if the patient is conscious and what level of consciousness they’re at; if they’re not awake or responsive, the patient can barely help.
Therefore, doctors need another way to assess the severity of the brain injury to determine if the patient is conscious or not. They often use pupillary dilation to determine how much of a brain injury someone has suffered, along with other markers like skull fractures and blood pressure changes.
This way, they can better understand how to treat the patient and whether they need surgery.
The link between pupil reactivity and traumatic brain injuries
Traumatic brain injuries occur when someone suffers a blow to the head that causes hurt the brain. It can be from an accident or an assault, but doctors must assess the severity of these injuries to treat them as soon as possible.
Pupil reactivity refers to the way a person’s pupils react to light. When someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury, their pupils may become fixed or dilated due to damage to the brain stem or nerve fibers that control eye function.
This can happen to people who have just had one blow to their heads, but it’s more common for those who have sustained multiple traumas.
Doctors can test the patient’s pupil reactivity by shining a light into one eye and then the other and seeing if the pupils change in response to this stimulus. This can help them diagnose a concussion or brain trauma.
The best tools for pupil examination for traumatic brain injuries
Several tools are used to examine a patient’s eyes and pupils, but they are not all equal. The best ones include:
- A penlight or flashlight: This is an essential tool for checking a patient’s pupils. Doctors can use it with other methods to get a complete picture of the patient’s condition.
- An ophthalmoscope: This device allows doctors to examine the retina at the back of each eye. They look for bleeding, cloudiness, and other abnormalities that can indicate a traumatic brain injury.
- Retinoscope: A retinoscope is a handheld device that allows doctors to examine the retina by projecting light onto it. This can help them determine whether the patient has bleeding in their eyes, which could indicate head trauma.
- Pupilometer: A pupilometer is a handheld device that measures the size of a patient’s pupils. Pupils are normally equal in size and react to light by constricting (shrinking). A pupilometer can help doctors determine whether someone has suffered brain damage by measuring how much their pupils shrink or expand when exposed to light.
Why is the pupilometer the best tool for pupil examination?
While the other pupil exam methods are effective and reliable, they do not provide the same level of detail as a pupilometer.
A pupilometer gives doctors a precise measurement of how large your pupils are, which can help them diagnose certain conditions and injuries.
The pupilometer is noninvasive. This means that patients do not have to undergo surgery or other invasive procedures to use it. It is also portable, lightweight, and easy to use.
A pupilometer provides a more accurate reading than other methods of pupil examination. This is because it uses a light source similar in intensity and wavelength to the sun, allowing for better cornea reflection.
Doctors who wish to accurately diagnose traumatic brain injuries can use a pupilometer to measure the size of a patient’s pupils and see if they are dilated or constricted. If a patient has a traumatic brain injury, their pupils will probably be dilated. This can help doctors determine which type of treatment is necessary for that patient.