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New Miniature Blood Monitoring Device Works In Real Time In ICU

First Posted: Oct 22, 2015 04:45 PM EDT

Researchers have created a miniaturized microfluidic device, the size of a pack of chewing gum, which will allow medical staff to monitor blood levels in real time in the ICU, according to a study at Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne in Switzerland.

"We embedded biosensors in [the device] to measure several different substances in the blood or blood serum along with an array of electronics to transmit the results in real time to a tablet via Bluetooth," said Sandro Carrara, an Integrated Systems Laboratory scientist.

The new device is quite simple in appearance, but the little black case with two thin tubes sticking out of it has major high-tech abilities, according to a news release.

The miniature device is capable of being connected a drainage tube that is already in place, and is less invasive than many other monitoring devices that it's designed to replace. This device keeps tabs on the blood levels of five substances: metabolites (glucose, lactate and bilirubin) and ions (calcium and potassium). These are all the changes that intensive-care patients experience.

"Nowadays, several of these levels are measured periodically. But in some cases, any change in level calls for an immediate response, something that is not possible with the existing systems," Carrara said.

The device can monitor up to 40 molecules in a quick time frame. This will reduce the number of machines that clutter around patients in their hospital rooms and the new device will put medical practitioners at an advantage.

The device was made with a 3D printer and it has been successfully tested on rodents. Additional ests are expected to be carried out at the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV), while a number of manufacturers have already expressed serious interest in developing this device, according to the researchers.

 "We could hit the market in two to three years," Carrara said.

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