Mar 26, 2018 | By Benedict

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley and University of California at San Diego have developed a 3D printed stomach monitor that could help identify gastro-intestinal problems. The researchers say the 3D printed medical device could inspire a “new kind of medicine.”

Keeping an eye on gastro-intestinal health is highly important, especially for children, who can often have difficulty explaining their symptoms to a doctor. Furthermore, finding new ways to monitor gastro-intestinal health outside of a clinical setting represents an important challenge for medical research.

Researchers from the University of California (Berkeley and San Diego) have used 3D printing to take on that challenge, developing a 3D printed stomach monitor that can track unusual signs and symptoms.

The medical device, a 3D printed box connected to 10 wearable electrodes (the kind used in electrocardiograms), can purportedly collect data with a similar accuracy to clinical methods, which the researchers discovered as they tested their 3D printed device on 11 children and one adult volunteer.

Perhaps more importantly, the device works without the uncomfortable and invasive procedure of being fitted with a catheter up the nose, which is standard practice for many gastro-intestinal checkups.

“We think our system will spark a new kind of medicine, where a gastroenterologist can quickly see where and when a part of the GI tract is showing abnormal rhythms and as a result make more accurate, faster and personalised diagnoses,” said Armen Gharibans, a bioengineering postdoctoral researcher at the University of California San Diego.

The researchers think the 3D printed stomach monitor could have a big impact on healthcare, since no non-clinical device currently exists for determining whether the stomach is functioning properly during meals and finding out where patients are experiencing symptoms like nausea and belly pain.

To make the device work effectively, the researchers had to devise a sophisticated algorithmic pipeline that boosts the stomach’s electrical signals while reducing noise and artifacts, giving the clearest possible picture of what is going on inside. Since electrical signals in the stomach are 10 times weaker than those of the heart, this is no mean feat.

The algorithmic pipeline works by separating out abdominal muscle activity, heart beats, and gastric activity into three separate signal bands that do not overlap.

The tests on volunteers showed that the data collected with the 3D printed device was similar to that collected using the invasive procedure of manometry, in which a catheter is inserted up the nose.

The researchers now plan to make a smartphone app that will work with the 3D printed stomach monitor, allowing users to log their digestive schedule, sleep patterns, and other data. The goal is to design the app so that doctors can remotely access this data in real time.

A research paper documenting the findings, “Artifact Rejection Methodology Enables Continuous, Noninvasive Measurement of Gastric Myoelectric Activity in Ambulatory Subjects,” has been published in Scientific Reports. Besides Gharibans, its authors were Benjamin L. Smarr, David C. Kunkel, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, Hayat M. Mousa, and Todd P. Coleman.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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