Aid to Identify and Categorize Erythema in Dark Skin

Period of Performance: 09/01/1999 - 02/29/2000


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Augmentech, Inc.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Principal Investigator


National pressure ulcer prevalence surveys have found a higher proportion of severe pressure ulcers among dark skinned hospital patients than among Caucasians. The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel has identified early detection of erythema in people with darkly pigmented skin to be a major clinical problem. We propose developing tools to assist nursing personnel in identifying erythema in darkly pigmented skin and better categorize it in people with all types of skin pigmentation. During phase l research we will develop and test a simple and inexpensive device, similar in shape to a fat thimble, that can be worn on a gloved or ungloved finger to indicate the degree of erythema and the "blanchability" of skin beneath it, independent of skin pigmentation. In phase 2, we will refine the human interface and manufacturability of this basic system and evaluate its utility in a variety of health care settings. We will also develop and test a more sophisticated hand held instrument to quantitatively differentiate between several degrees of blanchable and non-blanchable erythema that cannot currently be distinguished. We will conduct trials to determine if there is clinical utility for these additional skin assessment functions. This technology is especially applicable to the needs of our aging minority populations. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: This instrument will confirm or deny a diagnosis of stage l pressure ulcer for people with darkly pigmented skin. Currently, failure to recognize such stage l ulcers leads to the high incidence of full skin thickness pressure ulcers in minority patients with dark skin. Our easy to use, thimble shaped erythema detector will save hospitals and nursing homes money by reducing the currently high incidence of advanced pressure ulcers in Hispanics and African Americans.