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'smart Bandage' Detects Bedsores Before They Are Visible to Doctors

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The smart bandage is fabricated by printing gold electrodes onto a thin piece of plastic.

This flexible sensor uses impedance spectroscopy to detect bedsores that are invisible to the naked eye.

Credit: University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed a smart bandage that uses electrical currents to detect early tissue damage from pressure ulcers before they can be seen by human eyes and while recovery is still possible.

"We can imagine this being carried by a nurse for spot-checking target areas on a patient, or it could be incorporated into a wound dressing to regularly monitor how it's healing," says Berkeley professor Michel Maharbiz.

The system takes advantage of the electrical changes that occur when a healthy cell starts dying. Pressure ulcers are injuries that can result after prolonged pressure cuts off adequate blood supply to the skin.

"This bandage could provide an easy early-warning system that would allow intervention before the injury is permanent," says University of California, San Francisco professor Michael Harrison.

To create the bandage, the researchers printed an array of dozens of electrodes onto a thin, flexible film. They then discharged a very small current between the electrodes to create a spatial map of the underlying tissue based upon the flow of electricity at different frequencies, a technique known as impedance spectroscopy.

"Our device is a comprehensive demonstration that tissue health in a living organism can be locally mapped using impedance spectroscopy," says Berkeley researcher Sarah Swisher.

From UC Berkeley NewsCenter
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