A bio-adhesive capable of imaging the human body from the inside

A bio-adhesive capable of imaging the human body from the inside

Ultrasound imaging devices, which visualize the human body from the inside, are one of the medical tools credited with saving lives, and researchers have recently been able to shrink the size of a manual ultrasound-based probe that typically requires highly trained technicians. In order to move it over the skin – into a flat chip the size of a postage stamp, that can be attached to the skin using a special bio-adhesive, the new tool can record high-resolution videos over two continuous days, monitoring the activity of blood vessels and the heart during exercise or dilation The stomach and its contraction while the test subjects swallowed and digested the juice.

Xuanhe Zhao, a mechanical engineering specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one of the researchers involved in the study describing the new tool, which was published in the journal Science, comments. ScienceHe says, “The beauty of this instrument is instant when you know you can stick this ultrasonic probe — which can be described as a thinner ultrasound magnifier — to your body over a 48-hour period.” By capturing still images and recording videos of internal organs during this period, this wearable imaging device can be used to diagnose heart attacks and malignancies, test drug effectiveness, and assess the general health of the heart, lung or muscle. This device will change the current medical imaging paradigm by consolidating long-range continuous imaging, and may change the dominant paradigm in the field of wearable devices”; It’s well known that conventional ultrasound machines have superiority in imaging under the skin without harming the body, but such scans are difficult to obtain, says Nancho Lu, a mechanical engineering specialist at the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved in the study. But she contributed to writing the accompanying analysis published in the journal Science: “The traditional hand probe requires highly trained technicians to move the probe over the skin correctly, put some liquid gel between the probe and the skin, and as you might expect, the task is tedious. Requiring an experienced human element, these imaging techniques are prohibitively expensive and cannot be used during tests where participants exercise or subject their bodies to heat stress or environmental conditions, Low explains. “There are many drawbacks to conventional ultrasound imaging devices, so if we can turn ultrasonic sensors into ultrasonic devices,” she says. Portable, easy to use and wearable, this will undoubtedly open up a lot of new possibilities.”

Because of their variety of potential applications, other researchers have attempted to make adhesive patches for ultrasound imaging, but previous devices were designed to stretch on their own. to adhere to soft, pliable leather, but this formality factor negatively affected image quality; Due to its inability to accommodate a large number of transducers, which in our case are units that convert electrical energy into sound waves of extremely high frequencies that the human ear cannot detect, the ultrasound-based probe sends these waves to the human body through a layer of The viscous gel collides with other internal organs and structures and then bounces back into an array of transducers, which converts mechanical waves into electrical signals again and sends them to a computer to translate into images.

Image quality improves with more transducers. “It’s like the performance of a camera,” says Philip Tan, an electrical engineering and graduate student in Law Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, who was also not involved in the new study but contributed to the writing of the analysis. The adhesive, flexible ultrasound probe, which must expand with movement of the skin, can crowd as many transducers as possible into the array, and when the wearer moves, the transducer’s conformation changes, making it difficult to take clear images.

Rather than making the instrument itself flexible, Gao and his team attached a rigid probe, just three millimeters thick, to a flexible layer of adhesive. This adhesive replaces the sticky fluid that is placed between the skin and the arm of a conventional ultrasound scanner. Noting that the adhesive is a mixture of a water-rich polymer called a hydrogel and an elastic polymer, which is similar to rubber, Zhao explains, “It’s a piece of solid hydrogel that has more than 90% water, but is in a solid state like Gelatin “Jell-O”, we use this very thin film of flexible polymer to cover the surface of “Jel-O”, which prevents the evaporation of the water inside the gel to the outside.” This bio-adhesive was not only successful in sticking the probe tightly to the skin for a period of time. Not only 48 hours, but also provides a cushion-like layer to protect hard electronics from skin and muscle flexing.

Zhao and his team wanted to image different systems in the body, so they tested versions of the probe that emit waves at different frequencies and then penetrate the body to different depths. A frequency as high as 10MHz, for example, can reach a depth of two centimeters under the skin. The researchers used this frequency to monitor the activity of blood vessels and muscles as test participants switched from a sitting to standing position or during vigorous exercise. In contrast, the frequencies reached Less depth is greater, as a frequency of three megahertz penetrates to a depth of about six centimeters, which allows imaging of internal organs, the researchers used this frequency to image the four cavities of the heart in one test participant, and record the activity of another person’s stomach as it emptied its contents after she digested two cups Of the juice, Zhao noted that the researchers also matched the images collected by the rigid ultrasound probe with the images collected by the flexible ultrasound scanner. one exponential [10 أضعاف]”.

Imaging devices that feature continuous monitoring of specific parts of the body can be used to monitor and diagnose a variety of diseases. Doctors may be able to closely monitor the growth of a tumor over time, and someone who has a higher risk of high blood pressure may wear an ultrasound patch to measure their high blood pressure and alert them when it occurs or to track how well a treatment is working. For those infected with “Covid-19” to stay in their homes, knowing that there is an imaging device that will alert them if their disease causes their lungs to deteriorate, which requires hospitalization. Perhaps the most important applications of this device lies in monitoring and diagnosing heart attacks, Zhao says, commenting: “Heart disease And blood vessels are the leading cause of death worldwide, and in the United States as well.” Heart health is the focus of other wearable device developers; For example, smart watches, such as the Apple Watch, can track electrical signals that show the heart’s activity with what’s called an electrocardiogram, which can be used to diagnose heart attacks, at least in some cases, notes Zhao: “There are already studies that indicate that the electrocardiogram can diagnose only about 20% of heart attacks, in fact, the diagnosis of most heart attacks requires special imaging techniques, such as ultrasound,” and continuous imaging of the patient’s heart can contribute to monitoring symptoms and providing Early diagnosis of the condition.

“This new device opens up new possibilities for new types of medical diagnosis that cannot be performed in a static medium, and these are its main advantages,” Tan says. When assessing heart health, for example, it is useful to measure the heart’s activity during physical exertion, but it is difficult to hold the ultrasound device’s arm against a jogger’s chest covered in sticky jelly. They are wearable so that the transducer does not have to be held over the person being diagnosed, and they have already demonstrated that they can get very high quality heart images even while they are in motion.”

Despite the above, this bio-adhesive is still not ready for use, and one of the reasons why it is not ready is that it must be wired to a computer that can collect and analyze the data produced by the probe. “We wire this probe into a data acquisition system, but my team The researcher is working hard to reduce the size of all components and integrate them completely into a wireless device.” Zhao’s ultimate goal is to modernize the board by providing it with a miniature power source and a wireless data transmission system, a goal that Lu and Tan agree can be achieved thanks to the increasingly advanced electronic components. Diminishing and manufacturing methods that allow these features to be incorporated into an “ultrasound chip,” Lu suggests that such a device could be developed and put into practice within five years, if and if the field attracts private and federal investment. Until obtaining approval from the federal regulatory authorities.

Ultrasound imaging labels may eventually be added to the ranks of wearable devices that monitor human health, which include current devices for collecting information on heart rate, sleep quality, and even stress. “Our human bodies send With a lot of highly private data that is very persistent, distributed, and variegated in terms of our health, our emotions, our attention, our inclinations, etc., we are teeming with data, so the issue is how do we get that data in a reliable and continuous way.”

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