A smartphone application to detect anemia based on image analysis of the fingernail bed to detect paleness associated with low hemoglobin levels.
- Noninvasive testing method for anemia reduces risks associated with blood draw.
- Easy-to-use smartphone based screening tool for patients or health care providers.
Anemia is a common aliment characterized by low blood hemoglobin levels resulting in fatigue, weakness and, in severe untreated conditions, dangerous cardiovascular complications. The causes of anemia are various including chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and malnutrition. Typical diagnosis and monitoring of anemia utilizes a blood draw for analysis of red blood cell counts and hemoglobin measurements. However, this necessitates a medical practitioner to draw the blood and expensive equipment for the analysis. These hurdles are barriers for anemia self-monitoring by patients or diagnosis of anemia worldwide; especially in resource poor care settings, such as in developing countries.
Researchers at Emory University have developed a smartphone application to quantitatively detect hemoglobin levels in a low cost, noninvasive manner. Anemia is identified based on paleness of the fingernail bed observed by clinicians in their anemic patients. Within the application is an imaging processing algorithm that accounts for background lighting conditions and the skin tone of the patient before assessing the color within the fingernail bed. This allows for the quick detection of low hemoglobin levels by patients utilizing this application. As the software runs on a smartphone, the reduced cost of disease detection can benefit medical practitioners and at risk individuals for anemia.
The smartphone application is being tested with clinical samples to compare efficacy to current hemoglobin level detection methods.