Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a smart stent that can monitor hemodynamic parameters. The wireless and battery-free device can transmit the data to the outside of the body, and is powered through a wireless energy transfer system that uses magnetic fields, similar to wireless chargers that are available for many smartphones. The system could be helpful in long-term monitoring and aid patients with cardiovascular issues to avoid repeated angiograms. It can also potentially function as an early warning alarm for issues such as changes in blood pressure.
Stents are invaluable in treating blockages in blood vessels and aim to ensure that adequate blood flow through a vessel is maintained for an extended period after placement. However, they do not provide any information on whether they have fulfilled their purpose, with further diagnostics required to monitor patient hemodynamics over time. Typically, this involves an angiogram, which can be expensive and inconvenient for patients, and in certain cases the dyes and radiation involved can cause unwanted side-effects.
“Now, once you have deployed a stent, you’re not sure if the problem was resolved and patients may come back with the same issue,” said Woon-Hong Yeo, a researcher involved in the study. “It can be a defect of the stent, or an issue with stent deployment, or perhaps a problem with the patient’s blood flow.”
To address these issues, these researchers have developed a smart stent that can measure and monitor hemodynamic parameters wirelessly from its vantage point within the vasculature. The device includes soft sensors and can be delivered using a catheter, just like a regular stent.
“This electronic system is designed to wirelessly deliver hemodynamic data, including arterial pressure, pulse, and flow, to an external data acquisition system, and it is super small and thin, which is why we can use a catheter to deliver it, anywhere inside the body,” said Yeo. “It’s like a stent with multiple tricks up its sleeve.”
The implant is battery-free, obtaining energy wirelessly through an external charging technology that employs magnetic fields for energy transfer. The system may help patients to safeguard their long-term cardiovascular heath following stent placement.
“Basically, you can put this sensor system anywhere inside the body,” said Yeo. “The other thing about this technology platform is, in addition to being an implantable sensor system, it can be used as a wearable system. Think about a smartwatch and how much of its bulk is taken up by circuits or batteries. If you remove all of that, you have a device that is thinner than a typical Band-Aid, an almost invisible health monitor that you can wear anywhere.”