By Luc Puis
New technology is exciting, especially when it’s something that might be potentially useful in your daily clinical practice. Everything gets smaller and smaller, but the scale of miniaturization on the next two devices is truly mind-bending.
Blood Pressure Measuring Tattoo
Admit it. You had temporary tattoos when you were a kid. Eating chewing gum, unwrapping the paper tattoo, and holding a sponge over it to reveal the pirate ship, flower, or race car. Or maybe you still use temporary tattoos…? We’re not judging.
Anyway, what if you could use these kinds of tattoos to continuously measure your blood pressure? No more hassle with stinky arm cuffs that compress your arm every other hour during week-long monitoring. Or maybe even put it on to read your patients’ blood pressure during cardiopulmonary bypass? Perhaps it might be helpful to alleviate the future burden of cardiovascular disease?
The device is basically a sticker which holds graphene, the material in your pencil, that uses bioelectrical impedance analysis to read small changes in electrical currents. Those currents are then converted into blood pressure measurements. The researchers claim a high accuracy, and the device is projected to hit the market in the coming years. Pretty nifty!
Ultrasound Postage Stamp
The second technological wonder we wish to describe is an ultrasound postage stamp. Yes, you read it right. An ultrasound device, a few millimeters thick and about a square inch in size, that can perform ultrasound measurements up to 20 centimeters deep. That’s enough to measure flow through the renal or cerebral arteries during cardiopulmonary bypass. Or perform lung ultrasound to assess lung function during ECMO. The applications would be limitless.
The device can be worn for 48 hours and would be able to provide continuous ultrasound monitoring, even at home. The disadvantage at this moment is that it still needs to be hooked up to a conventional ultrasound machine, but the astonishing feature is that by using a 3D printing, laser micromachining, and photolithography (using light to create a pattern on photosensitive material), one device can be made in merely 2 minutes. Truly remarkable.
Kireev D et al. (2022) Continuous cuffless monitoring of arterial blood pressure via graphene bioimpedance tattoos. Nat Nanotechnol. 2022 Aug;17(8):864-870
Sabin N (2022) The Next Blood Pressure Breakthrough: Temporary Tattoos. MedScape
Wang C et al. (2022) Bioadhesive ultrasound for long-term continuous imaging of diverse organs. Science. 2022 Jul 29;377(6605):517-523
Chen M (2022) This Stamp-Sized Ultrasound Patch Can Image Internal Organs. Wired (Science)