Earl Wood - A research career noted for development of novel instruments driven by the power of the indicator dilution concept

Erik L. Ritman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

During World War 2, Earl Wood was charged with elucidating the biomedical factors in acceleration-induced loss of consciousness experienced by pilots in high-performance aircraft. For this, he developed devices for measurement and recording of blood pressure and tissue blood content. Those data lead to the design and fabrication of successful countermeasures to acceleration-induced loss of consciousness with an inflatable "G-suit" and "M1" breath-holding maneuver. After World War 2, he utilized and modified these instruments and made use of indicator dilution techniques by continuous intracardiac blood sampling to greatly increase the specificity and sensitivity of diagnosis of intracardiac anatomic and functional abnormalities in patients with congenital heart disease. This contributed to the greatly increased success rate of open-heart surgery in the 1950s. In the 1960s, he built on the then recently available video-coupled electronic X-ray image intensifier to develop X-ray fluoroscopy-based recording of indicator dilution signals in all cardiac chambers and surrounding great vessels without the need for placing catheter tips at those locations for blood sampling. However, these blood flow-related data were of limited value, as they were not measured concurrent with myocardial functional demand for perfusion. In the 1970s, he overcame this limitation by developing a high-speed multislice X-ray imaging scanner to provide tomographic images of concurrent dynamic cardiac anatomy and the indicator dilution-based estimates of blood flow distributions. On his retirement at age 70 in 1982, he had accomplished his 2 decade-old goal of the ability to make accurate concurrent, minimally invasive, and indicator dilution-based measurement of cardiovascular structure to function relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)945-956
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Volume117
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular
  • Computed tomography
  • Innovation
  • Oximetry
  • X-ray fluoroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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