These Stamp-Sized Stickers from MIT Can See Inside Your Body
Wouldn’t it be a relief to know exactly what was going on in your body at any given time? One can imagine that would prevent a few unfortunate scenarios–like when that character you liked in that movie went to the doctor’s office and discovered they wouldn’t be part of season 2 because cancer had taken over their internal organs!
But anyway, ugly-cry-inducing television moments aside, there are many important reasons why advanced ultrasound imaging is important.
Ever since the bridge was first forged between medicine and the digital world, doctors and healthcare stakeholders have been searching for better, faster ways to look into the inner workings of our bodies.
While a lot of progress has been made, there’s still room for improvement, which is why this latest development from MIT has everyone excited.
The Science Today: What Is Ultrasound Imaging?
Ultrasound imaging is one of the preferred imaging techniques used today in medicine. It provides physicians with a safe, non-invasive way into the body’s inner workings to acquire live images of internal organs.
Right now, the process consists of trained technicians using an ultrasound machine to send sound waves into a patient’s body. These waves are reflected back out of the body to produce high-res images of internal organs like the lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and other deep-lying organs.
Doctors and other healthcare professionals can work with the images produced, but there are still some drawbacks that leave room for improvement and innovation.
For example, ultrasound imaging needs bulky, specialized equipment that can only be found in well-equipped hospitals and doctor’s offices.
This equipment is not easy to use. Ultrasound imaging specialists are needed to run the entire setup and present results that doctors and other health personnel can understand.
However, a new design by MIT engineers seems to herald a new era in which ultrasound technology may become wearable and as easy to use as putting on a Band-Aid and linking up to your phone.
MIT’s Ultrasound Stickers
Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a sticker that is no bigger than a letter stamp and is capable of producing live, high-resolution ultrasound images of whoever wears them.
These stamp-sized devices provide continuous ultrasound imaging for up to 48 hours. They enable various monitoring and diagnostic tools for different diseases like heart disease, various cancers, and several pregnancy-related complications.
It’s not hard to imagine what this could mean for medicine.
Can you imagine being able to go to a pharmacy, buying one of these stickers, putting it on, and sending some high-resolution images to your doctor to look at while you return to your office?
We’re not here yet, but we’re getting closer to this reality.
At the moment, the design requires the sticker to stay connected to instruments that transduce the sound waves into images, but once wireless technology successfully comes in, we could be looking at a whole new future.
According to Xuanhe Zhao, the professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT who is the lead author of the study, “…imagine we could have a box of stickers, each designed to image a different location of the body”. According to the researcher, “this represents a breakthrough in wearable devices and medical imaging.”
And that is a future worth looking forward to.
What are your thoughts about this device? Comment below and let us know.