Innovation That Matters

MIT engineers designed an adhesive patch that produces ultrasound images of the body. | Photo source Felice Frankel

Ultrasound stickers for mobile monitoring of internal organs

Health & Wellbeing

The stamp-sized devices provide continuous imaging of internal organs for up to 48 hours

Spotted: Although ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive way to view internal organs, the current probes used for this purpose are bulky and not well-suited for portable imaging. Researchers have therefore explored designs for stretchable ultrasound probes that could provide high-resolution images while being more compact and mobile. However, these probes have so far only been able to provide low-resolution images. Now, researchers at MIT have developed a new design that would make ultrasound technology not only accessible but also wearable. This would allow more people to benefit from safe and noninvasive imaging.

What the researchers at MIT have developed is what they called ‘an ultrasound sticker’ – a stamp-sized ultrasound device that can be applied directly to the skin. The device is able to provide continuous imaging of internal organs for up to 48 hours. The researchers applied the stickers to volunteers and showed that the devices can produce high-resolution images in real-time.

The device is made from two thin layers of elastomer and a middle layer of elastic and stretchy hydrogel that transmits the sound waves. At only 2 square centimeters wide and 3 millimeters thick, the sticker is pretty much the size of a postage stamp.

Unlike traditional imaging, the stickiness of the device allowed for the capture of changes in underlying organs during everyday activities and exercise. As a result, the technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we monitor organ function and could be used for a variety of medical applications.

Other health innovations we’ve spotted recently include an artificial intelligence (AI) powered clinical support tool that can diagnose common illnesses and improve clinician workflows, and hologram patients that help train doctors.  

Written By: Katrina Lane



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