Medical Research

Shedding Light on the Injured Brain: PHANTOM Study

CareFlight’s Head Injury Retrieval Trial (HIRT) examined different systems of care. PHANTOM will explore the potential to deliver better care to the individual.

PHANTOM stands for Prehospital Assessment of Noninvasive Tissue Oximetry Monitoring. Launched earlier this year, the project is testing a new technique for early detection and treatment of brain injury.

The research builds on CareFlight’s pioneering head injury trial between 2005 and 2011 which showed the benefits of early treatment in reducing the long term damage from brain injury.

Tissue oximetry monitoring is the latest generation of near-infrared technology which uses self-adhesive probes to measure oxygen levels in the body. Research has already shown the potential to diagnose brain haemorrhage or haematoma using these techniques. Hospital-based research has indicated a relationship between oximetry results in the first 72 hours after injury and neurological outcomes up to six months later.

This research will record oximetry readings in pre-hospital trauma patients and follow up with them up to 12 months later. The aim is to learn more about the early stages of brain injury and the relationship to longer term outcomes.

Importantly, it may also lead to new techniques for diagnosing brain injury before patients reach hospital and further research into new treatments at the pre-hospital stage.

CareFlight’s medical research credentials have received a boost with a prestigious award to support the PHANTOM study into aspects of brain injury.

Our Research Director, Dr Andrew Weatherall, CareFlight’s Director Medical Research, is leading the PHANTOM study.


Dr Andrew Weatherall explains PHANTOM in more detail.