Biodegradable blood flow sensor to monitor surgery success

10 January 2019 (Last Updated January 10th, 2019 12:01)

A research team at Stanford University has developed a new biodegradable, battery-free sensor to wirelessly track blood flow following blood vessel surgery.

Biodegradable blood flow sensor to monitor surgery success
Artist’s depiction of the biodegradable pressure sensor wrapped around a blood vessel. Credit: Levent Beker.

A research team at Stanford University has developed a new biodegradable, battery-free sensor to wirelessly track blood flow following blood vessel surgery.

Intended to monitor the success of the surgery, the blood flow sensor has been designed to warn doctors if a patient has a blockage. The device is expected to allow earlier interventions.

The sensor wraps around the healing blood vessel and could detect any surface changes in the vessel. Doctors will be able to identify the change remotely from a device placed near the skin but outside the body.

“Intended to monitor the success of the surgery, the blood flow sensor has been designed to warn doctors if a patient has a blockage and enable early interventions.”

Stanford University surgery assistant professor Paige Fox said: “Measurement of blood flow is critical in many medical specialities, so a wireless biodegradable sensor could impact multiple fields, including vascular, transplant, reconstructive and cardiac surgery.”

When tested in rats, the device was able to successfully report blood flow to the wireless reader.

The researchers expect that the sensor’s scope could be expanded from detecting complete blockages to identifying finer fluctuations in blood flow.

Currently, the team is working on devising the best approach to affix the sensor to the blood vessels as well as refining its sensitivity.

In the future, the blood flow sensor could be made available in the form of a stick-on patch or integrated into other technology such as a wearable device or smartphone.

Stanford University School of Engineering professor Zhenan Bao said: “Using sensors to allow a patient to discover problems early on is becoming a trend for precision health.

“It will require people from engineering, from medical school and data people to really work together, and the problems they can address are very exciting.”