By DR. KATIE SPALDING: For Complete Post, Click Here…
They’re the size of a postage stamp, but they produce images in striking detail.
f you’ve ever had an ultrasound, you’ll know it’s not exactly a portable process. You generally have to go to a hospital, or at the very least a doctor’s office, and a trained sonographer scans your body with a bulky piece of machinery that looks sort of like what people in the 1950s thought technology in the 2000s would be.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In a new paper, published this week in the journal Science, engineers from MIT have described a new wearable ultrasound device – one that is the size of a postage stamp, sticks to your skin like a band-aid, and lets you see your own internal organs.
The team hopes that the devices will ultimately be wireless – and indeed they’re already working on that goal – but for now, the patches need to be connected to medical instruments that can translate the reflected sound waves into images. But in tests, the devices have already performed well: in trials on healthy volunteers, the stickers stayed on the skin for up to 48 hours at a time, producing clear images from inside participants’ bodies.
With just their sticky stamp-sized sonograph, the team was able to see the changing diameter of major blood vessels when seated versus standing, and watch the stomach distend then shrink back as volunteers drank then later passed juice out of their system. When participants lifted weights, the patches recorded the temporary microdamage happening in their muscles, and they could even pick up details of deeper organs, such as how the heart changes shape as it exerts during exercise.
“With imaging, we might be able to capture the moment in a workout before overuse, and stop before muscles become sore,” said lead author Xiaoyu Chen. “We do not know when that moment might be yet, but now we can provide imaging data that experts can interpret.”