A team of neurosurgeons from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and engineers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently presented a new form of brain sensor that wirelessly monitors intracranial pressure and temperatures. Moreover, after a few days, this biosensor is absorbed by the patient’s body and thus, eliminates the required surgery for removal.
The goal of developing this sensor is to provide an accurate, safe and less invasive way to monitor patients that have undergone severe brain injuries. In most cases, after a head trauma occurs or subsequently of a surgery, monitoring is crucial to determine proper recovery. This sensor provides accurate readings of intracranial pressure and internal temperature, where any change could potentially yield permanent damage if not detected on time.
The team in charge of this project believes that the technology used to fabricate this biosensor can be extended to create other sensors capable of monitoring a wide variety of organs inside the body, not only the brain. These sensors are made of materials that “naturally resorb via hydrolysis and/or metabolic action, completely removing the need of extraction” after the monitoring takes place, as explained in the publication.
This biosensor is built using a thin layer of nano porous silicon (Si) and a Si nanomembrane that work as a strain gauge. As reported, Si materials resorbs naturally in the body through hydrolysis. An extra layer is placed in between the substrate and the gauge of polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) for support. This material dissolves in biofluids within four to five weeks. From a medical point of view, this time window is enough to monitor the immediate effects of head trauma or brain surgery.
A wireless temperature sensor has been attached to the system while maintaining a small size, 3mm x 6mm, about the size of a small postage stamp. Using biodegradable molybdenum wires (10 μm thick), the sensor is connected to a wireless transmitter that is located right outside the skull using easy near field communication standards for data collection.
There are always inherent risks when attempting to remove any form of invasive monitoring. The patient will be exposed to infections and/or hemorrhage. Current monitoring mechanisms are bulky and highly invasive (cables coming out of your head), they limit the patient’s movements and thwarts recovery therapies.
This new brain sensor is made from materials bio-compatibles; it will be processed by the patient’s body and it has proved accuracy tested in rats, according to the development team. Given the small size of the pressure sensor, the wiring is most likely to be reduced in size to thin filaments, improving the recovery process. Right now the team is moving on the planning to start with human trials and hopefully this useful “gadget” might be available for doctors everywhere very soon.
This report can be found at this source.
Luis Felipe Gerlein Reyes
Luis Felipe Gerlein R. is a Ph.D. candidate at ÉTS. His research interests include nanofabrication and characterization of optoelectronic devices based on lead chalcogenides, carbon-based nanostructures and perovskite materials.
Program : Electrical Engineering