Soft skin patch could provide early warning for strokes, heart attacks – California News Times

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This soft, stretchy skin patch uses ultrasound to monitor blood flow to organs such as the heart and brain. credit: Nature Biomedical Engineering

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin to monitor blood flow through major arteries and veins deep inside the human body.

Knowing the speed and volume of blood flowing through a patient’s blood vessels helps clinicians diagnose various cardiovascular conditions such as blood clots, heart valve problems, poor limb circulation, stroke and arterial obstruction. Therefore, it is important. heart attack.

New ultrasound patch Developed at the University of California, San Diego for continuous monitoring Blood flowNot only blood pressure and heart function, but also in real time. Wearing such a device helps identify cardiovascular problems early.

A team led by Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego, Jacobs Institute of Technology, reported the patch in a treatise published on July 16. Nature Biomedical Engineering..

The patch can be worn on the neck and chest. The special feature of the patch is that it can non-invasively sense and measure cardiovascular signals at a depth of 14 cm in the body. And it can do so with high precision.

“This type of wearable device gives us a more comprehensive and accurate picture of what’s happening in deep tissues and important organs such as the heart and brain, all from the surface of the skin,” Xu said. Stated.

“Sensing signals at this depth is very difficult for wearable electronics, but this is where the body’s most important signals and central organs are buried,” said Xu’s lab. Former nanoengineering graduate student and researcher. “We have designed a wearable device that can penetrate such deep tissue depths and sense vital signals far below the skin. This technology can provide new insights into the healthcare arena. . “

Soft skin patches may provide early warning of stroke, heart attack

Wear an ultrasonic patch around the neck. credit: Nature Biomedical Engineering

Another innovative feature of the patch is the ability to tilt the ultrasound beam at different angles to direct areas of the body that are not directly under the patch.

This is the first time in the wearable space, as existing wearable sensors typically monitor only the area beneath the wearable, Xu said. “If you want to sense the signal in a different location, you need to move the sensor to that location. This patch allows you to probe a wider area than the device’s footprint. This opens up many opportunities. I will be. “

How to use

The patch consists of a thin sheet of soft, stretchy polymer that adheres to the skin. Embedded in the patch is an array of millimeter-sized ultrasonic transducers. Each is individually controlled by the computer. This type of array is known as an ultrasonic phased array. This is an important part of the technology as it provides the patch with deeper and wider functionality.

Phased arrays offer two main modes of operation. In one mode, all transducers can be sent synchronously Ultrasound Together, it produces a high-intensity ultrasonic beam that focuses on one spot at a depth of 14 centimeters of the body. In other modes, the transducers can be programmed not to send synchronously. This produces an ultrasonic beam that can be manipulated at different angles.

“With phased array technology Ultrasonic beam Muyang Lin, a PhD student in nanotechnology at the University of California, San Diego and co-lead author of the study, said: High resolution flow. This is not possible with just one transducer. “

The· Phased array Consists of a 12×12 grid of Ultrasonic transducer.. As electricity flows through the transducers, they vibrate and emit ultrasonic waves that travel through the skin and deep into the body. As the ultrasound penetrates the major blood vessels, it encounters movement from the red blood cells that flow inside. This movement changes or shifts the way the ultrasound echoes back into the patch. This is an effect known as the Doppler frequency shift. This shift in the reflected signal is detected by the patch and is used to create a visual record of blood flow. You can also use this same mechanism to create a video of the wall of the heart.

Soft skin patches may provide early warning of stroke, heart attack

Ultrasonic patch wired for a complete experimental setup. credit: Nature Biomedical Engineering

Potential game changer in the clinic

For many, blood flow is not measured during regular doctor visits. It is usually assessed after the patient shows signs of cardiovascular problems or whether the patient is at high risk.

The standard blood flow test itself can be time consuming and labor intensive. A trained technician presses a handheld ultrasound probe against the patient’s skin and moves from one area to another until it is directly above the main blood vessel. This may sound easy, but the results may vary by test and technician.

The patch is easy to use and can solve these problems, says Sai Zhou, who holds a PhD in materials science and engineering. A student at the University of California, San Diego and a co-author of the study. “Just stick it on your skin and read the signal. It’s operator-independent and doesn’t put extra work or strain on technicians, clinicians or patients,” he said. “In the future, patients may wear something like this for point-of-care and ongoing home monitoring.”

In testing, the patch ran like a commercial Ultrasound Probe used in the clinic. Accurately recorded blood flow in major blood vessels such as the carotid artery, which is the artery of the neck. blood In the brain. The ability to monitor this change in flow can help, for example, determine if there is a risk of stroke long before symptoms appear.

Researchers point out that there is still a long way to go before the patch is ready for the clinic. Currently, it needs to be connected to a power supply and a benchtop machine to work. The Xu team is working on integrating all electronics into patches to make them wireless.

Get closer to a wearable all-in-one health monitor with new skin patches

For more information:
Chonghe Wang et al, Continuous monitoring of deep tissue hemodynamics with elastic ultrasound phased array, Nature Biomedical Engineering (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41551-021-00763-4

Provided by
University of California, San Diego

Quote: Soft skin patch, stroke, heart attack (7 2021) obtained on July 22, 2021 from May 22) may provide early warning

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