Phototherapy is a therapeutic measure that is carried out through phototherapy units, equipment that uses electromagnetic radiation (light) for the treatment of neonatal jaundice, in order to reduce the severity of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. The administration of phototherapy will depend on bilirubin levels, age of life, gestational age at birth, birth weight, cause of jaundice, and clinical status of the newborn.
What is a phototherapy unit used for?
An infant bilirubin phototherapy unit is a medical instrument commonly made up of 4 blue light tubes and 2 white light tubes, and a cover or shield that protects the newborn in case of tube breakage and ultraviolet light. The blue ones are placed in the center and the white ones on the sides. Currently these phototherapy lamps are made up of fluorescent and LED bulbs used for neonatal treatment.
The use of a phototherapy unit decreases the levels of bilirubin in the capillaries and in the interstitial space, transforming the bilirubin into water-soluble isomers that can be eliminated without conjugating in the liver through urine and feces.
Importance of phototherapy units
The phototherapy unit is the medical instrument used in this therapeutic measure, phototherapy is one of the most used means to treat neonatal jaundice, in the protocol of this process the newborn is exposed to the light source (phototherapy unit). Jaundice is the yellowish coloration of the skin and mucous membranes caused by the accumulation of bilirubin. Neonatal jaundice is common worldwide, and its frequency varies considerably among populations due to racial differences, genetic conditions, hemolytic states, and breastfeeding practices.
In the newborn, the increase in bilirubin is often secondary to the destruction of red blood cells, whose quantity is much greater in the fetus to make the most of the scarce amount of oxygen present in the uterine environment. Once a large number of these red blood cells are born, they are no longer needed, so a good part of them are destroyed, this generates a large production of unconjugated bilirubin, which passes into the blood and remains in the vascular bed. This bilirubinemia rises in the first hours of life, endangering the life of the newborn, due to involvement of the central nervous system, which is why it must be correctly treated using phototherapy units.
Factors Affecting the Efficacy of Phototherapy
- Type of light (white, blue, green) the most effective is blue, which has a maximum power of 425,475 nm, this light penetrates well into the skin and is absorbed by bilirubin to the maximum.
- Light intensity or irradiation.
- Exposed surface area.
- Exhibithion time.
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