Smart bandage monitors wounds

October 1st, 2017 / By: / Projects

Now under development, a bandage with an alert system could be used in medical facilities and at home. It is portable, inexpensive and easy to use. Photo: Empa.

When a patient has a chronic wound, tracking the healing process and regularly changing the dressing is important to recovery. Nurses and other caregivers must guard against bacteria that could cause infections as well as keep the skin from getting irritated.

Researchers from Empa, ETH Zurich, Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM), and University Hospital Zurich are working together to develop technology that makes examining all types of wounds easier for the nurse and the patient. Researchers are developing a bandage with built-in sensors that can monitor the biochemical processes that are present as a wound heals, including pH, which is particularly useful for monitoring chronic wounds, as well as glucose and oxygen levels. The dressing remains on the patient, causing less disruption and discomfort.

Fluorescent-sensor molecules are able to identify these substances in the wound fluid and are designed to respond with a physical signal, glowing and changing color. Using a color scale, weaker and stronger changes in hue can be detected and the quantity of the emitted substance can be deduced, alerting medical staff to possible problems. A fluorescence-measuring instrument developed by the CSEM reads the signals and provides precise quantitative measurements.

Sensors need only be on a portion of the wound surface to work. The technology offers gentler treatment for the patients, requires less effort for the nursing staff and can reduce costs. For more information, visit www.empa.ch.

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