Miniature Implantable Sensor Likely Lifesaver for Patients
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.
"This research is based on several key developments in optics and micro-fabrication that have far-reaching implications for future directions in a multitude of clinically significant biomedical sensing systems," Ericson said. "Through these innovations, biomedical microsensors are poised to make major technology advances to help meet the critical needs of patients in hospitals, emergency care facilities and extended-care facilities."
The ability to prevent -- or at least detect -- circulation problems quickly could lead not only to fewer complications during surgery, but also could reduce the number of deaths attributable to those complications.
For further information please contact:
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Medscape TechMed. 2002;2(4) © 2002 Medscape
Cite this: New Products - December - Medscape - Dec 31, 2002.