UConn engineers have created a biodegradable and implantable pressure sensor that helps physicians monitor organ pressure during diseases such as intracranial or pulmonary hypertension.
Doctors are less and less alone. An engineer group worked on a sensor allowing the practitioner to constantly follow his patient with intracranial or pulmonary hypertension. The small flexible sensor consists of materials that have already been used and validated in surgical sutures, bone grafts or medical implants. It is designed to replace already existing but potentially toxic implantable pressure sensors. Indeed, these sensors must be removed after use, which supposes a new intervention, prolonging their recovery time and increasing the risk of infection.
This is just the beginning
To ensure the tolerance of the sensor, the researchers implanted it in a mouse. The results showed minor inflammation after the sensor was inserted, and the surrounding tissue returned to normal within four weeks.
One of the biggest challenges of the project was to have the biodegradable material produce an electrical charge when it was under pressure, a process known as a piezoelectric effect.
Eli Curry, one of the students in the study, found the solution when he was able to successfully transform the sensor components into a piezoelectric material, thus getting closer to the potentially revolutionary object: "Imagine that the sensor is implanted in the brain and that the electronics that accompany it is removed from the brain tissue and implanted under the skin, behind the ear. Just a minor treatment to remove the electronics without worrying about a direct contact between the sensor and a soft brain tissue."