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MIT researchers create skin patch that takes continuous ultrasound images

MIT researchers create skin patch that takes continuous ultrasound images

Patients may 1 day have the ability to buy stickers that may be used to monitor organs, the progression of tumors and development of fetuses in the womb. Photo by falco/Pixabay

The continuing future of ultrasound imaging is actually a sticker affixed to your skin that may transmit images continuously for 48 hours.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a postage stamp-sized device that creates live, high-resolution images. They reported on the progress this week.

“We believe we’ve opened a fresh era of wearable imaging: With several patches on your own body, you can see your internal pipes,” said co-senior study author Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT.

The sticker — about 3/4-inch across and about 1/10-inch thick — is actually a replacement for bulky, specialized ultrasound equipment available only in hospitals and doctor’s office, where technicians apply a gel to your skin and then work with a wand or probe to direct sound waves in to the body.

The waves reflect back high-resolution images of a significant arteries and deeper organs like the heart, lungs and stomach. Although some hospitals curently have probes affixed to robotic arms that may provide imaging for extended periods, the ultrasound gel dries as time passes.

For the present time, the stickers would still need to be linked to instruments, but Zhao along with other researchers will work on ways to operate them wirelessly.

That opens up the chance of patients wearing them in the home or buying them at a drug store. Even yet in their current design, they might eliminate the dependence on a technician to carry a probe set up for a long period.

In the analysis, the patches adhered well to your skin, enabling researchers to fully capture images even though volunteers moved from sitting to standing, jogging and biking.

“We envision several patches honored different locations on your body, and the patches would talk to your cellphone, where AI algorithms would analyze the images on demand,” Zhao explained within an MIT news release.

Another approach tested — stretchable ultrasound probes — yielded images with poor resolution.

“[A] Wearable ultrasound imaging tool could have huge potential later on of clinical diagnosis. However, the resolution and imaging duration of existing ultrasound patches is relatively low, plus they cannot image deep organs,” said co-lead author Chonghe Wang, a graduate student who works in Zhao’s Lab.

The MIT team’s new ultrasound sticker produces higher resolution images by pairing a stretchy adhesive layer with a rigid selection of transducers (they convert energy in one form to some other). In the centre is really a solid hydrogel that transmits sound waves. The adhesive layer is manufactured out of two thin layers of elastomer.

“The elastomer prevents dehydration of hydrogel,” co-lead author Xiaoyu Chen explained. “Only once hydrogel is highly hydrated can acoustic waves penetrate effectively and present high-resolution imaging of organs.”

Healthy volunteers wore the stickers on various areas, like the neck, chest, abdomen and arms. The stickers produced clear images of underlying structures, like the changing diameter of major arteries, for 48 hours. They stayed attached while volunteers sat, stood, jogged, biked and lifted weights.

They showed the way the heart changes shape since it exerts during exercise and the way the stomach swells, then shrinks, as volunteers drank and eliminated juice. Researchers also could detect signs of temporary micro-damage in muscles as volunteers lifted weights.

“With imaging, we may have the ability to capture as soon as in a good work out before overuse, and prevent before muscles become sore,” Chen said. “We have no idea when that moment may be yet, however now we are able to provide imaging data that experts can interpret.”

Along with focusing on wireless technology for the stickers, the team is developing software algorithms predicated on artificial intelligence that may better interpret the ultrasound images.

Zhao thinks patients may 1 day have the ability to buy stickers that may be used to monitor organs, the progression of tumors and development of fetuses in the womb.

“We imagine we’re able to have a box of stickers, each made to image another located area of the body,” Zhao said. “We believe this represents a breakthrough in wearable devices and medical imaging.”

The findings were published Thursday in Science.

More info

The National Institute of Biomedical imaging and Bioengineering has more on ultrasound.

Copyright 2022 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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