WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed wireless sensors that monitor pressure and temperature inside the brain and then are absorbed by the body, negating the need for surgery to remove the devices.
The implants could be used to monitor patients with traumatic brain injuries. The researchers believe they can build similar absorbable sensors to monitor activity in organ systems.
“The benefit of these new devices is that they dissolve over time, minimising the risk of infection, chronic inflammation and even erosion through the skin or the organ in which it’s placed,” said Rory K J Murphy, a neurosurgery resident n St Louis. About 50,000 people die of traumatic brain injury annually in the US.
When patients with such injuries arrive in the hospital, doctors must be able to accurately measure intracranial pressure in the brain and inside the skull because an increase in pressure can lead to further brain injury.
“The devices commonly used today are based on technology from the 1980s. They-‘re large, unwieldy, and have wires that connect to monitors in the intensive care unit,” Murphy said. The new sensors are made mainly of polylactic-coglycolic acid (PLGA) and silicone, and they can transmit accurate pressure and temperature readings, as well as other information.
“With advanced materials and designs, we demonstrated that it is possible to create electronic implants that offer high performance and clinically relevant operation in hardware that completely resorbs into the body after the relevant functions are no longer needed,” said professor John A Rogers.
The researchers tested the sensors in baths of saline solution that caused them to dissolve after a few days.
Next, they tested the devices in rats. Now, they are planning to test it on patients.