November 23, 2002
Embeddable Human Circulation Sensors

Sounds like this project is still at a fairly early stage of development. Still, what is interesting is that this sort of technology is under active development in the first place. Electronics technology has advanced far enough that embeddable sensor systems can be moved into active development.

Using a tiny wireless sensor developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, doctors will know in minutes instead of hours if an organ is getting adequate blood flow after transplant or reconstructive surgery.

Conventional methods for assessing circulation involve invasive procedures or extensive laboratory testing. In some cases, by the time doctors realize there isn't adequate blood flow to an organ or tissue, irreversible damage already has occurred.

"Our goal is to offer a technique that provides the physician with a very early indication of whether the surgery is successful," said Nance Ericson, who leads the effort from ORNL's Engineering Science and Technology Division. Ericson is working with Mark Wilson, a surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh, and Gerard Coté of Texas A&M University.

The tiny implantable sensor – about the diameter of a quarter -- and micro-instrumentation being developed by Ericson would provide real-time information by transmitting data to a nearby receiver. Specifically, the unit employs optical sensors to assess tissue circulation. Preliminary tests using laboratory rats have provided encouraging results.

Embedded optical sensors could do other kinds of measurement as well:

Although not a part of this project, Ericson sees this leading to several other photonics-based microsensors for making measurements in a number of areas. For example, this approach could be useful for measuring arterial blood gases, which are primary indicators of respiratory function, or serum lactate, which is a marker for the severity of tissue injury. Current methods require obtaining blood samples and then sending those samples to a lab for analysis.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 November 23 07:39 PM  Cyborg Tech


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