Live, high-resolution images of a patient's internal organs are already possible with ultrasound imaging technology. However, currently the technology "requires bulky and specialized equipment that is only available in hospitals and clinics," he says. an announcement from MIT.
Now, a new project by MIT engineers "could make the technology as portable and accessible as buying Band-Aids at the drugstore."
In a study that appeared today in Science, engineers from MIT present a new project for ultrasound stickers – a stamp-sized device that sticks to the skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.
The researchers tested the stickers on volunteers and showed that the devices produced vivid, high-resolution images of large blood vessels and deeper organs such as the heart, lungs and stomach. The stickers maintained strong adhesion and recorded changes in the underlying organs as the volunteers performed various activities, standing, jogging and cycling.
From the images of the stickers, the team was able to observe the changing diameter of major blood vessels when the testers were sitting versus standing. The stickers also captured deeper organ details, such as how the heart changes shape as it exercises during exercise. The researchers were also able to watch the stomach expand, then contract as the volunteers drank juice. Other volunteers lifted weights, and the team was able to detect patterns in the muscles being used that signaled future microdamage.
"With imaging, we may be able to capture the moment of a workout before too much fatigue and stop before the muscles hurt," says Chen.
Ultrasound stickers could become portable imaging products that patients could take home from the doctor's office or even buy at a pharmacy.
"We envision Band-Aids that will be attached to different locations on the body and communicate with your cellphone, where artificial intelligence algorithms will instantly analyze the images," says Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering, environmental engineering at MIT.