Painless check on brain to be tested

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A DEVICE that can measure pressure on the brain without skull- drilling or spinal needles will soon be available. Thousands of patients who suffer from water on the brain, trauma after accidents, tinnitus, unexplained dizziness and blurred vision stand to benefit from the non- painful procedure.

Patients would normally undergo a painful procedure of inserting a needle in the base of the spine to measure pressure on the brain or have a hole drilled in their skull.

The Cerebral and Cochlear Fluid Analyser, developed at Southampton University, measures fluid pressure in the inner ear, which scientists have found is linked to the fluid around the brain. It has been used on nearly 500 patients.

Last year, Dr Robert Marchbanks, of the University of Child Health at Southampton University, was named as one of the top four inventors at the Innovation Exhibition and Competition.

It will undergo more trials at Queen's Medical School in Nottingham, Addenbrooks in Cambridge, Newcastle General Hospital, and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, and US medical centres. Nasa wants to use it to measure the effects of non-gravity on the pressure on astronauts' brains when they are in space.