What is DRDO's supplemental Oxygen Delivery System and how it can prove to be a boon in the COVID-19 pandemic?
In a landmark achievement, DRDO's Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL), Bengaluru has developed a SpO2 (Blood Oxygen Saturation) supplemental Oxygen Delivery System. The automatic system can prove to be a boon during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and to soldiers posted at extreme high-altitude areas.
The system developed by DEBEL will help in delivering supplemental oxygen based on the SpO2 levels, preventing the person from sinking into a state of Hypoxia (fatal in most cases, if sets in).
It is a state where the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues is not adequate to meet all the energy requirements of the body. The exact situation is replicated in COVID-19 positive patients and has been a leading factor in the ongoing crisis.
As per the press release by the Ministry of Defence, the electronic hardware of the system is designed to function at extreme altitudes with low barometric pressures, low temperatures and humidity. The software safety checks which are incorporated in the system plays a crucial role in ensuring the functional reliability of the system in field conditions.
How does the system work?
The automated system developed by DRDO reads the SpO2 levels of an individual with the help of a wrist-worn pulse oximeter module through a wireless interface and controls a proportional solenoid valve to regulate the oxygen supply to the patient. The patient will receive oxygen from a lightweight portable oxygen cylinder through nasal nares.
As per the Ministry, the system is available in various sizes ranging from one litre and one kg weight with 150 litres of oxygen supply to 10 litres and 10 kg weight with 1,500 litres of oxygen supply which is expected to sustain for around 750 minutes with a continuous flow of two litres per min (lpm). The automated system with the dual qualities of being robust and cheap is already in bulk production with the industry.
Boon to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
The system is a boon to the ongoing crisis arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be used in the houses for moderate COVID-19 infected patients for Oxygen flow therapy with flow controlled at 2/5/7/10 lpm flow. The wrist-worn oximeter will give an alarm in cases of lower SpO2 value. It will also increase or decrease the oxygen flow based on SpO2 settings which can be automatically adjusted at 2,5,7,10 lpm flow rate.
Due to its availability and uncomplicated usage by a common man, the system will reduce the workload and exposure time of doctors and paramedics at large.
What is SpO2?
Saturation of Peripheral Oxygen (SpO2) is the measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood to the amount of haemoglobin not carrying oxygen. It is also referred to as Oxygen Saturation.
"The automated Calibrated Variable Flow Control for Low O2 levels (User pre-set, <90%, <80%) through a calibrated Flow Control Valve (PFCV) will facilitate in economising the oxygen supply (1-10 lpm with ±0.5 lpm). A moderate Covid patient requires longtime moderate O2 supply 10Litre/150bar–10kg–1500 litres which can sustain up to 750 minutes," the Ministry said in a press note.
The automated and uncomplicated Oxygen Delivery System will prove to be a boon in the current crisis when medical resources are stretched to their limits. Its proliferation would mitigate the crisis in the management of a huge number of COVID-19 positive patients in many ways pan India.