We are tired of seeing it in futuristic movies and games: a technology capable of showing the inside of the body of a human, animal or alien in the form of a tablet, or glass that comes out of a device, or a very small scanner. All without requiring the large and expensive equipment that we see in medical facilities and hospitals.
Imagine the same thing in a patch that you buy at the pharmacy like any other plaster, you open it, stick it on your chest and the doctor can see your heart, lungs, etc., IN REAL TIME. Well, it exists and they have created it.
The X-ray patch
Until now, medical specialists have used conventional ultrasound to view our organs without resorting to surgery or other more invasive procedures. Contemporary ultrasound has a major drawback: it requires large and expensive equipment. This type of equipment is usually only reasonable in the context of a doctor’s office or hospital. However, a team of researchers at MIT intends to bring this technology closer to people with a new high-tech patch.
The team has developed a postage-stamp-sized device capable of providing uninterrupted ultrasound images of organs for two days. Applying the postage-stamp-sized device to research participants produced real-time, high-resolution images of deeper organs, such as the stomach, heart and lungs. While wearing the patch, the participants performed a variety of activities, including running, standing, sitting, and cycling; the patches remained firmly attached while recording changes in the underlying organs.
From the images generated by the patches, the team was able to observe changes in the width of major blood vessels when the participants were sitting or standing. The patches were also able to pick up information about deeper organs, such as the way the stomach distends and then retracts when volunteers drink fluids, as well as how the heart changes shape when it strains during exercise.
Some participants lifted weights for their part of the tests. While lifting the weights, the researchers were able to make out bright patterns in the underlying muscles, indicating brief microdamage.. The patch is capable of generating high-resolution images over a longer period of time by combining an elastic adhesive layer with a rigid array of transducers.
According to Conghe Wang, an MIT graduate student, this configuration allows the device to conform to the skin and preserve the relative location of the transducers for more detailed and clear images. In its current version, the patches still require a wired connection to a device that can convert reflected sound waves into visible images.
Although the patches have advantages even in their current form compared to conventional ultrasound equipment, the team is working to make them work wirelessly, allowing patients to take them home from the hospital or doctor’s office. or even buy them at a pharmacy.
A useful, powerful and cheap medical tool
MIT professor Xuanhe Zhao stated that the team is envisioning a set of patches that can be placed on different places on the body., and that these communicate with the smartphone. In principle, it would be possible for phone software to analyze images on demand, making patches a very powerful medical tool.
Xuanhe Zhao: “We believe that we have opened a new era of portable imaging: With a few patches on the body, you could see your internal organs”. The team has presented its findings in an article published in the scientific journal Science. And of course, medical technology never ceases to amaze us.
They create a patch for the skin with which you can see the inside of a body in real time