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ABSTRACT: In recent years, there has been an increase in the popularity of light-emitting diode (LED)-based, battery-powered transilluminators (BPTs) for facilitating transdermal vascular access in adults and neonates. BPTs are believed to have lower potential for inducing skin burns than prior devices based on high-power broadband lamps; however, the optical and thermal outputs of BPTs are not well documented and safety limits for these devices are not well established. In this study, we characterize and assess the optical and thermal outputs of six BPTs that incorporate red, orange and white LEDs. Optical measurements included spectral irradiance and peak local irradiance. Thermal measurements included transient temperature readings for an exposure time of 4 min in ambient air and ex vivo tissue pre-heated to physiological temperatures. The greatest mean temperature rise produced in tissue by a non-white-light diode BPT was 2.5 degrees C, whereas a mean temperature rise of 9.1 degrees C was measured in a BPT that incorporated white-light diodes with relatively high irradiance levels. The dominant cause of temperature rise was most likely heat generation within the devices. Thermal damage analyses based on temperature limits and the Arrhenius equation indicate that although some of the devices studied approach the threshold for damage, none appear to exceed it under normal operating conditions. The results demonstrated that ambient air measurements may be suitable for identifying worst-case BPT temperatures. This study highlights the potential risk of LED-based medical devices as well as the need for additional research on related issues such as neonatal thermal injury thresholds.
Physics in Medicine and Biology 11/2009; 54(22):6867-80. · 2.70 Impact Factor