Microfluidic photoreactor to treat neonatal jaundice

John M. Lahmann, Ryan A. Faase, Hsuan Yu Leu, Steven L. Jacques, Brian Scottoline, Kate F. Schilke, Joe E. Baio, Adam Z. Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While in most cases, jaundice can be effectively treated using phototherapy, severe cases require exchange transfusion, a relatively risky procedure in which the neonate's bilirubin-rich blood is replaced with donor blood. Here, we examine extracorporeal blood treatment in a microfluidic photoreactor as an alternative to exchange transfusion. This new treatment approach relies on the same principle as phototherapy but leverages microfluidics to speed up bilirubin removal. Our results demonstrate that high-intensity light at 470 nm can be used to rapidly reduce bilirubin levels without causing appreciable damage to DNA in blood cells. Light at 470 nm was more effective than light at 505 nm. Studies in Gunn rats show that photoreactor treatment for 4 h significantly reduces bilirubin levels, similar to the bilirubin reduction observed for exchange transfusion and on a similar time scale. Predictions for human neonates demonstrate that this new treatment approach is expected to exceed the performance of exchange transfusion using a low blood flow rate and priming volume, which will facilitate vascular access and improve safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0066073
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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