New born baby with jaundice

Painless jaundice testing rolls out in West Midlands

A new painless method of testing for jaundice in babies has been rolled out by an NHS trust in the West Midlands.

The innovation comes from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust which is introducing Transcutaneous bilirubin (TcB) testing as a way of making new-born jaundice testing as non-invasive and pain-free as possible.

Jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin in the blood and is normally investigated using a blood sample extracted from the patient’s heel which is then sent off to a lab for analysis.

Coming as a handheld device, TcB testing works by directing light into the skin on a baby’s chest – the monitor then analyses the spectrum of light reflected by the skin and measures overall yellowness, allowing clinicians to benchmark the rating against values in a reference chart.

Trust Neonatal Clinical Lead and Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Ashok Karupaiah, said: “We feel really happy to bring this testing to our patients. It is a painless method due to not needing a blood test which means our babies are happier and it reduces parental anxiety.

“The results are immediate so there is less waiting time for blood results and more time for our midwifery/neonatal teams to put into patient care as well as being able to accurately advise and reassure families.

“It also aids in referral from the community to the Paediatric Assessment Unit which will mean families can potentially avoid return visits to hospital.”

Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Meenu Thottungal, added: “I was here at the start of this project and have been training staff so I am really proud that we can offer this now. It will change both baby’s life as well as our staff as it provides a better patient experience and can support an earlier discharge.”

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