From unborn babies in the womb to kidney stones, ultra sound technology is a marvelous thing. It allows us to see inside our bodies in a non-invasive way. It’s been used as a diagnostic tool in medicine for sometime now, at least 50 years and generally it requires a specialist radiologist or sonographer and bulky machines.
Scientists at MIT want to change all that and have invested an ultrasound ‘patch’, a little like a Nicorette patch, which can be sold in pharmacies or used in small doctor’s practices. And it’s the size of a postage stamp.
The stamp-sized device sticks to skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours. Researchers applied the stickers to volunteers to demonstrate how they work.
The devices produced live, high-resolution images of major blood vessels and deeper organs such as the heart, lungs, and stomach. As the volunteers performed various activities, including sitting, standing, jogging, and biking, the stickers maintained a strong adhesion and continued to capture changes in underlying organs.
Currently, the stickers must be connected to instruments that translate the reflected sound waves into images. However, the team are working to make the stickers wireless.
Even in their current state, however, the stickers could have immediate beneficial applications. For example, the devices could be applied to patients in the hospital, similar to heart-monitoring EKG stickers, and could continuously image internal organs without requiring a technician to hold a probe in place for long periods of time.
“We envision a few patches adhered to different locations on the body, and the patches would communicate with your cellphone, where AI algorithms would analyze the images on demand,” says the study’s senior author, Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT. “We believe we’ve opened a new era of wearable imaging: With a few patches on your body, you could see your internal organs.”
[Via Sci-tech Daily]