Ultrasound is frequently used for non-invasive tissue and organ imaging. However, for this technique to work, the target area and the transducer must be in close proximity. Ultrasound imaging also necessitates the use of costly, sophisticated equipment. Because of a new design developed by MIT engineers, the technology may now be available and wearable.
A wearable ultrasound imaging device in the form of an ultrasound sticker that can be applied to the skin and continuously image internal organs for 48 hours has been developed by scientists. This bioadhesive ultrasound (BAUS) system consists of a thin, rigid ultrasound probe that is securely fastened to the skin by a couplant made of a soft, resilient, and biodegradable bioadhesive hydrogel-elastomer hybrid.
The devices demonstrated 48 hours of continuous imaging of various internal organs, including blood vessels, muscle, the heart, the gastrointestinal tract, the diaphragm, and the lungs, on volunteers after the stickers were placed on their bodies. While volunteers performed different activities like sitting, standing, jogging, and biking, they kept a solid adhesion and documented changes in the underlying organs.
A gel can be used prior to ultrasound imaging to transmit ultrasound waves through the patient’s skin. When a probe is pressed against the gel, sound waves are sent into the body, where they reverberate off internal organs before returning to the probe, where the echoed signals are converted into visual images.
Stretchable ultrasonic probe designs for internal organ imaging that are portable and low-profile have recently been investigated. By employing a flexible array of tiny ultrasonic transducers, these designs were intended to fit a patient’s body.
These experimental designs, however, produced low-resolution images due to their stretch. Since transducers move in relation to one another, the image is distorted.
The recently developed ultrasound sticker provides high-resolution images for a longer period of time by fusing a stretchy adhesive layer with a rigid array of transducers. To produce clearer and more accurate images, the device must be able to adhere to the skin while also maintaining the relative location of the transducers.
The team also created a rigorous myriad of transducers, with the bottom elastomer layer intended to adhere to skin and the top layer adhering to it. The ultrasound sticker has a surface area of 2 square centimetres and a thickness of 3 millimetres, making it about the size of a postage stamp.