The neonatal incubator with phototherapy lamp is a device used to give life support, isolate and provide warmth to the newborn. In addition to providing optimal conditions for the care of neonates who are not prepared for extrauterine life, this type of incubator specializes in the treatment of hyperbilirubinemia in neonatal patients with jaundice.
The method used to treat the excessive increase in bilirubin in the neonate is known as phototherapy and consists of the use of light radiation. The effect that light has on bilirubin is to break it down into non-toxic water-soluble components, so that it is then excreted in the feces or urine.
There are a variety of types of phototherapies according to the maximum wavelength produced by light. Therefore, specialized blue fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps, halogen bulbs or lamps with an LED system are used, depending on the case. Fluorescent tubes have plexiglass shields to filter any ultraviolet radiation; they do not emit dangerous levels of infrared radiation. While tungsten – halogen bulbs emit broad spectrum light, thus emitting ultraviolet radiation and radiation in the near infrared, which at high levels can damage the eyes and skin, so these bulbs must include internal filters and reflectors to reduce harmful radiation. As for LED bulbs, they emit a blue light that does not increase the temperature or emit ultraviolet radiation.
The following are the types of phototherapy and the lamps it uses
- Simple, standard or conventional phototherapy: in which radiation of 8-10 μW/cm2/nm emitted by a lamp with fluorescent tubes, two white and four blue, is used.
- Intermittent photo therapy: as the name implies, it works with cycles of exposure to light and cycles of rest. Lamps used for standard phototherapy are used.
- Double or intensive phototherapy: uses radiation greater than 30 μW/ cm2/nm and uses lamps with six blue tubes.
The phototherapy units (lamps) are arranged in the following ways
- Fixed: mounted on the wall or a ceiling.
- Built-in: included in the incubator.
- Mobile and pedestal: it is placed on the incubator.
During phototherapy the baby should be put on a mask to prevent any damage to the eyes. The importance of the incubator with a phototherapy lamp is that its use prevents bilirubin from reaching toxic levels that can cause permanent brain damage in the newborn and other complications that could cause high bilirubin.