Exciting Medical Advancement in Ultrasound Technology

Ultrasound equipment

The use of ultrasound technology in medicine goes way back. It was first discovered that ultrasound could be used in medical practice in 1942. Ultrasound technology is the key to diagnosing and treating many problems that are otherwise undetectable by other medical equipment. Ultrasound is a non-invasive medical technology that can look inside the body for medical conditions to see what is going on. On top of that, ultrasound can also be used to treat some medical conditions.

The Beginning of an Innovation

Its bulky nature is the most significant limitation of ultrasound equipment. Xuanhe Zhao, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is working on a new project that could miniaturize and simplify the entire process with a wearable patch. His goal is to make the technology more accessible and wearable so monitoring can take place over a longer term and perhaps even at home. The size of the patch is approximately 1 square inch and a few millimeters thick.  “It looks like a postage stamp,” Zhao says.  It can be worn for a couple of days almost anywhere on the body compared to current ultrasound methods that typically last for only a few seconds and must be performed in a hospital or doctor’s office.  Internal organs can be imaged in real-time.  This is a massive breakthrough for medical technology, and it has the potential to revolutionize how we diagnose and treat diseases. The patch is still in development but shows great promise for the future.

About the Miniature Ultrasound Patch

The ultrasound patch is a multi-layered device with two main components: an ultrasound probe which is stacked on top of a couplant, which is a material that helps facilitate the transmission of acoustic waves from the probe into the body. It is placed over the site to be examined and can see as far as 20 centimeters below the skin  As complex as this patch is, the manufacturing time per patch is only about 2 minutes.

This patch can make it easier to capture and see organ changes over time rather than at a point in time. As an example, scientists were able to see that after a subject exercised, the left ventricle of their heart expanded and their carotid artery blood-flow rate increased.  In another example, scientists could see a subject’s stomach expand as they drank juice and then contract as the juice was digested.

One drawback to the current patch design is that it is not wireless. The subject must stay hooked up to a conventional laboratory ultrasound imaging system through a cable. At least the cable is long enough that the subject can still walk around including on a treadmill or stationary bike. The expectation of scientists, though, is that it will eventually be possible for this data to be wirelessly sent out. 

Though we at BSC Solutions Group are not in the medical equipment business, we do offer a wide range of IT-related products and services, which continue to evolve as new technologies are developed.  Find out about how we can be of service to your organization here.