BACKGROUND: In Indonesia, the burden of severe hyperbilirubinemia is higher compared to other countries. Whether this is related to ineffective phototherapy (PT) is unknown. The aim of this study is to investigate the performance of phototherapy devices in hospitals on Java, Indonesia.
METHODS: In 17 hospitals we measured 77 combinations of 20 different phototherapy devices, with and without curtains drawn around the incubator/crib. With a model to mimic the silhouette of an infant, we measured the irradiance levels with an Ohmeda BiliBlanket Meter II, recorded the distance between device and model, and compared these to manufacturers' specifications.
RESULTS: In nine hospitals the irradiance levels were less than required for standard PT: < 10 μW/cm2/nm and in eight hospitals irradiance failed to reach the levels for intensive phototherapy: 30 μW/cm2/nm. Three hospitals provided very high irradiance levels: > 50 μW/cm2/nm. Half of the distances between device and model were greater than recommended. Distance was inversely correlated with irradiance levels (R2 = 0.1838; P < 0.05). The effect of curtains on irradiance levels was highly variable, ranging from - 6.15 to + 15.4 μW/cm2/nm, with a mean difference (SD) of 1.82 (3.81) μW/cm2/nm (P = 0.486).
CONCLUSIONS: In half of the hospitals that we studied on Java the levels of irradiance are too low and, in some cases, too high. Given the risks of insufficient phototherapy or adverse effects, we recommend that manufacturers provide radiometers so hospitals can optimize the performance of their phototherapy devices.