UZ Antwerp first to objectively measure pain

Summary

The city’s University Hospital is using devices developed by an Israeli firm to measure acute pain and monitor patients’ pain-reducing systems

World first

The University Hospital in Antwerp (UZA) is the first hospital in the world to use devices that can measure pain in an objective way. Apart from measuring acute pain, the devices can also examine how far the pain-reducing system of patients with chronic pain is disturbed.

According to the UZA’s multidisciplinary pain centre, researchers have been looking for a way to objectify pain for decades. Until now, patients have had to estimate their pain experience on a scale from one to 10. But the Israeli firm Medoc has developed two pain measuring devices, which are used in Antwerp for the first time, thanks to a long co-operation between the company and the UZA.

One new device, named Medasense (pictured), can measure acute pain with a sensor on the finger. The device measures on the basis of seven parameters such as blood flow, and determines a pain gradation through a mathematical formula. The other device, the CPM, judges whether the pain monitoring system in chronic pain patients is functioning correctly by measuring reactions to big or small temperature changes.

“We want to use the devices on a large scale during certain surgeries for which it is difficult to determine the necessary amount of anaesthesia,” pain centre co-ordinator Guy Hans told De Morgen. “We can also use it for patients who are asleep for a long time and for patients with chronic generalised pain.”

The UZA is also working on a scientific publication about the devices, which currently cost €40,000 to €80,000.

Photo courtesy UZ Antwerp