A team of neurosurgeons and engineers has developed wireless brain sensors that monitor pressure and temperature inside the brain and then are absorbed by the body so that there is no need for surgery to remove the devices.
Developed by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis and engineers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the implants can be used to monitor patients with traumatic brain injuries.
“The new device dissolves over time so you do not have something in the body for a long-time period, increasing the risk of infection or chronic inflammation,” said Rory KJ Murphy, neurosurgery resident at Washington University School of Medicine.
“Using resorbable devices negates the need for surgery to retrieve them which further lessens the risk of infection and further complications,” Murphy added in a paper published in the prestigious journal Nature.
The devices are made mainly of polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) and silicone and can transmit accurate pressure and temperature readings as well as other information.
The researchers tested the sensors in baths of saline solution that caused them to dissolve after a few days.
Next, they tested the devices in the brains of rats. Having shown that the sensors are accurate and that they dissolve in the solution and in the brains of rats, the researchers now are planning to test the technology in patients.
In patients with traumatic brain injuries, neurosurgeons attempt to decrease the pressure inside the skull using medications.
If pressure cannot be reduced sufficiently, patients often undergo surgery.
The new devices could be placed into the brain at multiple locations during such operations.
The researchers believe they can build similar absorbable sensors to monitor activity in organ systems throughout the body.