MIT researchers have developed an ultrasound skin sticker that could save many lives. To do this, it continuously monitors the function of our organs.

Nowadays it's easier than ever to find out about your own body. Fitness gadgets such as the Apple Watch or other bracelets continuously record our vital data. If that's still not enough for you, there are scales for measuring body composition or intelligent blood pressure monitors available.

But when it comes to data about our blood sugar or our organs, invasive means are still required. But that could soon change thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They developed a small ultrasound sticker that can monitor the health of organs in the body. It can be easily worn on the skin and is only the size of a postage stamp.

Ultrasound sticker detects patterns on organs

The structure can detect signs of diseases such as liver and kidney failure, as well as the progression of solid tumors. In the recently published study, the research team reports that the sensor does this by sending sound waves through the skin into the body. There, the internal organs reflect the waves and send them back to the sticker. The pattern of reflected waves then indicates how healthy the corresponding organ is.

The ultrasound sticker makes it possible to continuously monitor changes in the stiffness of the organs over long periods of time. Because this is crucial for the early detection of internal organ failure. In preliminary experiments, the sensor was able to detect early signs of acute liver failure in rats. The engineers are currently working on adapting the design for use in humans.

Technology is based on a 25 millimeter computer chip

According to the researchers, one possible application location is the intensive care unit, where the flat sensors could continuously monitor patients recovering from organ transplants. The researchers integrated 128 miniature transducers on a 25-millimeter square chip. They then coated the underside of the chip with a hydrogel adhesive.

A mix of water and a polymer, this sticky and stretchy material ensures that sound waves can enter and exit the device with almost no loss. In the future, patients will also be able to wear the stickers at home so that their vital signs can be monitored over longer periods of time. According to the researchers, this could save many lives in the long term.

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