With ultrasound imaging usually required special equipment, which also took up a lot of space. In general, devices are only available in hospitals or doctor’s offices.
Now MIT University in the United States has packaged an ultrasound measuring device roughly the size of a patch.
It is glued to the skin near the point where you want to get an ultrasound image.
The researchers compare the device to a patch that is glued to the skin. The size of the ultrasound transmitting and receiving sticker is two square centimeters.
It is about three millimeters thick. The battery provides power for two days.
The device has been tested on the skin at different points. In the experiments, accurate images were obtained even of a person’s blood vessels and also of organs that are deep in the body, says the MIT University publication.
Ultrasound imaging gives the doctor an accurate picture and information about the patient’s internal organs. The signals bounced off the organs are converted into images.
In technology sound waves are guided into the body. The waves are reflected back according to the shape of the body and are measured. The echo signals coming to the probe are converted into visual images.
Many lay people are familiar with the technique from fetal studies. With the help of ultrasounds, you can monitor the movements and condition of the fetus in the womb.
The merit of the device from MIT University is that even though the sensor is small and light, its image is accurate. One reason is that the sensor can be firmly attached to the skin with the help of gel and glue.
The patient’s was applied to the skin first in the tests gel. The probe is then pressed against the gel. Grip was obtained by combining a flexible adhesive layer with rigid sensors.
In the experiments, the sticker remained attached to the skin, even when the test subjects jogged or cycled. They tried it on their necks, chests, stomachs and arms.
The researchers observed how the volunteers’ stomachs swelled when they drank the juice. The researchers also monitored the heart rate during the exercises.
The device the adhesive layer is made of two thin layers of rubbery elastomers. They encapsulate a middle layer of solid hydrogel, which is mostly water-based.
The lower layer of elastomers is designed to adhere to the skin. The upper layer sticks to a rigid array of sensors.
Unlike traditional ultrasound gels, the MIT team’s hydrogel is also more flexible.
Previous small sensors produced inaccurate images. The sensor moved easily when the person changed their position. It distorted the image obtained from the sound waves.
“Elastomer prevents watery gel from drying out”, says MIT PhD student Xiaoyu Chen on the university website.
“When the hydrogel stays moist, the sensors get an accurate picture of the internal organs.”
However, the liquid ultrasound gel dries out over time and eventually stops continuous imaging.
A group at MIT now working on the wireless version of the device. At the same time, artificial intelligence is used to develop algorithms that interpret the image better and better.
With the help of the sticker, you could, for example, constantly monitor the condition of the baby in the womb, or whether the tumor has worsened. Or it could, for example, tell an athlete about muscle strain.
“These patches on different parts of the body could then communicate data to, for example, one’s own mobile phone”, envisions one of the developers, professor Xuanhe Zhao. He is a professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT.
Patches could become part of fashion. Maybe we’ll start making clothes that track the state of the body, says Zhao.
He told about the sticker that measures ultrasound science journal Science.
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