Researchers at the University of California have created a wireless ultrasound patch capable of continuously monitoring vital signals like heart rate and blood pressure.
Wearable ultrasound patches hold immense promise for transforming healthcare by enabling convenient remote monitoring of essential physiological functions from the comfort of one’s home. However, most patches under development face a significant drawback: they necessitate cables for powering the device and transmitting ultrasound data, thereby restricting the wearer’s mobility to a control system. Fortunately, this limitation has been overcome with recent advancements.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) have developed a fully wireless ultrasound patch that can continuously track critical vital signals such as heart rate and blood pressure. The patch captures medical data and wirelessly transmits it to a smart device, advancing at-home healthcare tech significantly. Traditionally clinic-bound, ultrasound advances with wireless patches, enabling imaging inside the body.
The ultrasound system includes a probe, circuit, and battery. It targets cardiovascular health, with the probe on the carotid artery. A flexible circuit activates ultrasound transducers, collects echoes, amplifies, filters, and wirelessly transmits signals to a terminal device. A rechargeable lithium polymer battery powers the system. A machine learning algorithm works with the circuit to process ultrasound signals and track the carotid artery while the patch wearer is in motion. This tracking advancement opens new possibilities in medical ultrasonography and exercise physiology.
The researchers have cross-validated the machine learning model on ten healthy subjects from diverse racial groups. Using domain adaptation, they found the model could be adapted for different participants, accurately tracking carotid artery pulsations. This allows for measurements like blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and cardiac output, providing early heart failure warnings. The team emphasized the importance of validating the patch on a larger population and comparing it to existing medical devices. The device primarily assessed cardiovascular functions, but the researchers also applied it to monitor the diaphragm and peripheral arteries. The team mentioned the system’s potential for measuring various body spots with adaptable probe designs to suit tissue monitoring needs.
The researchers aim to blur the boundary between at-home care and in-hospital diagnosis, envisioning a future with wireless devices enabling diagnoses anytime, anywhere.
Reference: Lin, M., Zhang, Z., Gao, X. et al. A fully integrated wearable ultrasound system to monitor deep tissues in moving subjects. Nat Biotechnol (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-023-01800-0