Ultrasound imaging (sonography) uses high-frequency sound waves to view inside the body. Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can also show the movement of the body’s internal organs as well as blood flowing through the blood vessels. Unlike X-ray imaging, there is no ionizing radiation exposure associated with ultrasound imaging.
Current ultrasound imaging requires bulky and specialized equipment available only in hospitals and doctor’s offices. But recently, a group of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a new technology capable of performing ultrasound using a stamp-sized device that sticks to the skin.
The team of engineers designed an ultrasound sticker that has the size of a stamp that can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.
The researchers used the device for volunteers and they were able to produce live, high-resolution images of major blood vessels and deeper organs such as the heart, lung, and stomach. They were even able to detect patterns in underlying muscles, signaling temporary microdamage during exercise.
The device’s adhesive layer is made from two thin layers of elastomer that encapsulate a middle layer of solid hydrogel, a mostly water-based material that easily transmits sound waves. Unlike traditional ultrasound gels, the MIT team’s hydrogel is elastic and stretchy.
They were able to maintain strong adhesion even when volunteers were performing physical activity. The team is working on making the stickers into wearable imaging products that patients could take home after a doctor’s appointment to monitor different conditions.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Engineers develop stickers that can see inside the body: New stamp-sized ultrasound adhesives produce clear images of heart, lungs, and other internal organs.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/07/220728142925.htm>.
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