Spinal Solution: Developing an electronic device to detect cerebrospinal fluid in the emergency room
Ethan Chan
St John's School
Floor Location : S 061 H

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord. In an emergency room setting, it is vital to rapidly and decisively differentiate CSF leakage from blood and mucus in trauma patients, to avoid life-threatening infections, strokes, and other pathologies that may result in permanent damage to the central nervous system. The current CSF detection method, the halo sign test, is a qualitative test that has high rates of false positives and negatives. Other methods, such as CT scans, are too time and resource restrictive for an emergency room setting.

An electronic device was developed to increase the accuracy and precision of CSF leakage detection in the emergency room. It measures visible light absorption and emittance of a reaction in which the protein lactoferrin, a model for β-2-transferrin in CSF, reduces gold (III) chloride to form gold nanoparticle clusters that emit light in the visible and ultraviolet range. The device leverages computational power to rapidly predict the reaction's end result, determining if CSF is present in the sample within minutes, meeting the required time frame for detection in the emergency room. This device is predicted to allow for more standardized and reliable CSF detection in these settings.