The best neurological tools are efficient, reliable, and easy to use. Every neurologist that has ever performed a neuro exam will agree that the pupilometer is the best tool for checking pupil reactivity. It gives you an accurate reading of how reactive a patient’s pupils are and a quick and easy way to assess whether they are dilated in response to light.
This means you can quickly screen for abnormalities in the brainstem, which is especially important when assessing patients who have suffered from head trauma, stroke, or brain infections.
But what is a pupilometer? And what does it do? This article will explain precisely what a pupilometer is and how it works. It will also give tips on using one effectively to get the most accurate readings possible.
What is the Pupilometer?
When a patient suffers a traumatic brain injury, it is essential to assess whether they have suffered any damage to the brainstem. The brainstem houses several vital functions that help control a patient’s breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and eye movements. If this brain area is damaged, it can lead to severe complications.
But most times, a patient with TBI can barely stay awake, let alone tell you how they feel. That’s why it’s crucial to have a diagnostic device on hand to help assess the brainstem’s status without relying on patient feedback.
The pupilometer is a small handheld device that medical professionals can easily use. The pupilometer measures the pupil size of an eye and compares it to the other eye to determine if there is any damage to the brainstem. It’s important to note that when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury, their pupils will often dilate (enlarge), which is one of the first signs of TBI.
Doctors can also measure the pupillary light reflex with a pupilometer to determine if the patient’s brainstem is functioning correctly. The pupilometer can check the pupils of both eyes at once, making it a handy tool for doctors and nurses working with patients in emergency rooms and intensive care units.
How Is the Pupilometer Used to Check Pupil Reactivity?
To use the pupilometer, you place it over one eye and shine a light into the other. If the pupil constricts (becomes smaller), the patient’s brainstem is functioning properly, and there is no damage to the optic nerve or retina.
If there is damage, the pupil will not constrict, so the patient suffers from a brainstem injury. This can signify severe impairment and may indicate that they have suffered a stroke or other trauma.
As a doctor, it’s crucial to remember the neurological pupil index (NPi) when diagnosing patients with brainstem injuries. This formula combines your assessment of the patient’s pupils and their reaction to light, along with other factors, like their level of consciousness and motor skills.
By combining all these things, you can come up with an accurate diagnosis for the patient and begin treating them accordingly.
What Are the Benefits of Using the Pupilometer?
So, why should you use a pupilometer? The benefits of using this device are many and include the following:
Improved accuracy of measurement
In the past, doctors would manually gauge a patient’s pupil size and reactivity. This could be difficult, especially if you were trying to assess someone unresponsive or in critical condition. With a pupilometer, however, you can avoid these issues by using an automated system that provides accurate measurements every time.
Tracking of changes in pupil size over time
Anyone who has ever calculated the pupil reactivity of TBI patients is aware of how difficult it can be to track changes in pupil size over time. Most times, you may have to take multiple measurements within a short period.
This can be inconvenient for patients and caregivers alike. With a pupilometer, however, you can easily track these changes by taking one measurement daily and recording the results in your patient’s chart.
The pupilometer is portable and non-invasive
Invasive methods of measuring pupil size are not only painful, but they also require that patients remain in bed for the duration of the test. A pupilometer is portable and non-invasive. You can use it in any environment where you have access to a bright light source. This can include ambulances, hospitals, and even home care settings.