The effect of device position and use of transparent covers on the irradiance distribution of LED phototherapy devices

M T Ismail, A R Horn


Background. Effective phototherapy reduces neonatal jaundice and its complications. Irradiance increases as the distance of the light source decreases from a single phototherapy light. There are limited studies of the effect of distance and positional changes on different light-emitting diode (LED) light designs on achieving effective phototherapy.

Objectives. To describe and compare the effect of distance, angle and plastic barriers on three different LED lights of different design.

Methods. Comparisons were made using a Servolite, a General Electric (GE) Lullaby and a Ningbo David LED phototherapy light. Measurements were done according to methods described by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The effective irradiated area was measured on a grid measuring 60 × 30 cm subdivided into 5 × 5 cm squares. Measurements were done for the following scenarios: light placed at the manufacturer’s recommended distance, 20 cm closer, 20 cm further, at an angle, through clear plastic and through scuffed Perspex.

Results. When the lights were placed closer to the irradiated surface than the manufacturers’ recommendations, the maximum irradiance increased, but the median irradiance and uniformity ratio decreased. When the lights were angled at 45º, the median irradiance was decreased. A decrease in the median irradiance was also seen when phototherapy lights passed through scuffed plastic and food-grade plastic.

Conclusion. Our study demonstrated that the placing of LED lights closer than the manufacturers’ recommendations, the use of transparent barriers and the use of lights at an angle, compromised phototherapy irradiance and distribution. Only the GE light met IEC standards.

Authors' affiliations

M T Ismail, Department of Neonatal Medicine, School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa

A R Horn, Department of Neonatal Medicine, School of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2020;14(2):87-93. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2020.v14i2.01670

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-07
Date published: 2020-07-07

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