Cosmetic Surgery Base » Phototherapy » FAQs About Fiber Optic Phototherapy – 4 of The Most Common Questions Answered

FAQs About Fiber Optic Phototherapy – 4 of The Most Common Questions Answered

For newborn babies with jaundice or yellowing of the skin, fiber optic phototherapy is often used instead of the conventional phototherapy. Infants are at greater risks in developing hyperbilirubinemia. A hyperbilirubinemia is a familiar problem for term and preterm newborns in intensive care units around the world. This is a condition in which there is too much bilirubin in the blood of the newborn baby. Bilirubin is a substance that is released when red bloods cells break down. The best treatment for hyperbilirubinemia involves exposure of the baby’s skin to a special blue spectrum light, because bilirubin molecules absorb light. Fiber optic phototherapy is safer, more effective and convenient to parents. If you have questions about the technique, read through this page.

Fiber Optic Phototherapy

Fiber Optic Phototherapy

Question #1: What are the indications for fiber optic phototherapy?

Answer: Fiber optic therapy devices are used to treat jaundice or yellowing of the skin in newborn babies. This is also known as hyperbilirubinemia because of the abnormal elevation of the bilirubin. A bilirubin is a chemical found in the blood. This could lead to brain damage or seizures called kernicterus if there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Around 6.1% of term newborns and much higher percentage of preterm newborns have hyperbilirubinemia that needs treatment. The treatment procedure will depend on many factors such as the cause of hyperbilirubinemia, the level of serum indirect bilirubin, the rate of indirect bilirubin rise, and the age of the patient. The aim for treatment is to keep the bilirubin from rising to dangerous levels.

Question #2: How does fiber optic phototherapy work?

Answer: This treatment works when a specific blue light wavelength is directed at the baby’s skin. The energy of the light changes the bilirubin molecules so that the baby will excrete it in the urine, thus lowering the dangerous level of bilirubin in the blood. A fiber optic phototherapy consists of a flexible fiber optic light that produces blue color. This device is often called “bili blanket” because the lights can be applied directly to the baby’s skin and covered with a blanket.

Question #3: How is it different with conventional phototherapy?

Answer: Fiber optic phototherapy was invented in 1989 and before it was invented, conventional phototherapy was used. Conventional phototherapy consists of a large bank of lights that is positioned over the baby’s crib or bassinet. This kind of treatment somehow was not so convenient for babies because it requires the baby to spend time in the crib or bassinet with covered eyes to prevent damage from the light. And it also requires the baby to stay at the hospital.

Question #4: What are the benefits of fiber optic phototherapy?

Answer: This therapy is often treated at home. Parents can feed and hold their babies normally. The panel position of the fiber optic can be changed all the time so that the baby’s entire body can get phototherapy during the entire course of treatment. Fiber optic therapy is more convenient than conventional therapy because the effectiveness of phototherapy is inversely related to the distance between the light and the skin.

Although this is safer and more convenient, fiber optic phototherapy has side effects on babies too. These include mild diarrhea, increased water loss, skin irritation, and bronzing of the skin. But all these will be gone when the lights are stopped.

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