DIAGNOSIS: New patches that spy inside the body

These tampon-sized ultrasound patches produce clear ultrasound images of the heart, lungs and other internal organs and mark a new, decisive step in the monitoring and diagnosis of patients at risk. Thus, an adhesive can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.

Mobile ultrasound patch imaging

Ultrasound imaging is a safe and non-invasive technique to monitor and verify the proper functioning of internal organs and the body, however, to obtain these images, trained technicians and sophisticated and bulky ultrasound machines are required, hence the idea of ​​a new, lighter and more mobile ultrasound technology to bring these high-resolution images of a patient’s heart, lungs and other deep organs.

Technology as portable and accessible as buying bandages at the pharmacy

The device is in effect the size of a skin patch but can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours. Tested on volunteers, the ultrasound patch provides proof of its effectiveness, providing high-resolution live images of major blood vessels and deep organs such as the heart, lungs and stomach. Their stickiness is long-lasting, as is their ability to pick up changes in the underlying organs as participants engage in their activities.

The current design requires connecting the adhesives to instruments that translate reflected sound waves into images. Although being optimized, already in their current form, the patches could have immediate applications, for monitoring patients in the hospital or for remote cardiac monitoring. The researchers are indeed working on a wireless operation that would allow monitoring of patients at home.

“We envision these patches at different sites of the body, with communication with mobile, and artificial intelligence algorithms that would analyze the images on demand”summarizes the lead author of the study, Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical and environmental engineering at MIT.

A new era of portable imaging is dawning: with a few patches on the body, everyone will be able to monitor the functioning of their internal organs.

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