Versatile electronic devices that deal with the body have been advancing rapidly, doing everything from measuring our blood oxygen levels through our skin to monitoring our muscles using a tattoo. Now, a group of scientists from Tufts University has actually taken flexible electronic devices to their next rational action, embedding them in sutures that can keep track of the body from the site of the stitching and relay their findings to a Bluetooth-enabled gadget.
As soon as sewn in place in both mice and tissues samples in a lab dish, the threads had the ability to gather information on their environments including the pressure, stress and temperature level at the suture website. They were likewise able to measure the pH and glucose levels, which can be crucial markers in determining how well a site is recovery and whether or not infection has set in.
Sonkusale stated, for instance, that the electrical resistance of polyurethane threads coated with carbon nanotubes changes with strain caused on them. By tracking that resistance, it’s possible to assess how well an injury is closing and this marker was utilized in the research study to keep an eye on injury closure in mice.
Likewise, the resistance in metallic threads modifications based on temperature, so by monitoring them, it’s possible to understand if a wound site is extra hot, which would be a sign of infection. This part of the work resembles previous research study done with temperature-sensing sutures.
In the research studies, the threads were attached to a circuit board that measured about the size of half a charge card, which was located on the skin of the mice. That board, using Bluetooth, was able to send information to a smartphone and a computer. Sonkusale, who directs Tuft’s Nano Laboratory, informed us that there is no reason why the circuit board couldn’t be diminished down in future iterations of the system and be the size of a single silicon chip.
The work of Sonkusale and his group was released online today in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering.