WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Wireless brain sensors developed by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine
in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are smaller than a pencil tip and
can monitor intracranial pressure and temperature before being absorbed by the body,
negating the need for surgery to remove the devices.
(January 18, 2016) Tiny implants measure intracranial pressure, temperature before being absorbed into the body
A team of neurosurgeons and engineers has developed wireless brain sensors that monitor intracranial pressure and temperature and then are absorbed by the body, negating the need for surgery to remove the devices.
Such implants, developed by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, potentially could be used to monitor patients with traumatic brain injuries, but the researchers believe they can build similar absorbable sensors to monitor activity in organ systems throughout the body. Their findings are published online Jan. 18 in the journal Nature.
“Electronic devices and their biomedical applications are advancing rapidly,” said co-first author Rory K. J. Murphy, MD, a neurosurgery resident at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. “But a major hurdle has been that implants placed in the body often trigger an immune response, which can be problematic for patients. The benefit of these new devices is that they dissolve over time, so you don’t have something in the body for a long time period, increasing the risk of infection, chronic inflammation and even erosion through the skin or the organ in which it’s placed. Plus, using resorbable devices negates the need for surgery to retrieve them, which further lessens the risk of infection and further complications.”
Murphy is most interested in monitoring pressure and temperature in the brains of patients with traumatic brain injury.
About 50,000 people die of such injuries annually in the United States. 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, and there is no way to reliably estimate pressure levels from brain scans or clinical features in patients.