Measure Your Blood Flow

The inventors of the new ?epidermal electronic? sensor system say it is ready for use in a clinical setting, specifically for monitoring skin health, for example in patients who have recently had skin grafts. They say down the road it may also be possible to use it inside the body. In a recent demonstration, the researchers showed that the device can record accurate data from human subjects about the flow of blood in larger vessels, specifically veins in the forearm, as well as in the network of tiny vessels near the surface of the skin.

Compared with state-of-the-art methods for noninvasively measuring blood flow, which rely on optical systems or ultrasound technology, the new sensor is much simpler and less expensive, says John Rogers, one of the inventors and a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. More importantly, he says, it is much less sensitive to motion thanks to the way it ?intimately laminates? to the skin.

Characteristics of the blood flow in any given tissue are a good indicator of that tissue?s health. Some conditions, like infection and inflammation, can lead to an increase in local blood flow, whereas others, like atherosclerosis, heart failure, and diabetes, can cause a decrease. If doctors could precisely and even continuously monitor this flow, they could better tailor care to individual patients and conditions.