IT’S one giant leap for doctors at Southampton General Hospital.

A revolutionary brain pressure test developed by scientists in the city is to play a vital role in ensuring the health of NASA astronauts.

The groundbreaking technique, which offers a safe and painless way of measuring fluid pressure in the brain, is already used worldwide, but it is reaching new frontiers and going where most have never gone before.

To mark the collaboration between NASA and Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust (SUHT), one of the world’s leading space doctors is today visiting the team behind the medical breakthrough to find out more about the hospital’s cutting-edge research.

Dr Saralyn Mark, the first senior medical adviser on women’s health at NASA, will meet consultant clinical scientist Dr Robert Marchbanks and other clinicians at the forefront of space medicine, including the nutrition and cardiovascular departments.

The cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure analyser measures fluid on the brain via headphones linked to a computer, removing the need for a surgical implant or lumbar puncture, which involves a large needle being inserted into the fluid within the spinal cord that can be painful and hazardous.

The test, which can help diagnose neurological disorders and head injury complications, has been adopted by NASA following concerns about visual problems and brain pressure levels in astronauts.

Dr Marchbanks said: “We are extremely honoured to welcome Dr Mark to Southampton and look forward to discussing with her the success of our work here, but also the future of space science, exploration and the progression of medical links.”

Following the tour of the hospital, Dr Mark will present some of her work, which studies the impact of gender in space and response difference among men and women to ensure astronauts enter space in the safest conditions.