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Absorbable Implants Could Help Monitor TBI Patients

Jan. 22, 2016

Are we seeing the future of patient monitoring?

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed implants that could be used to monitor patients with traumatic brain injuries.  However, the implants potentially could be used for additional applications, such as monitoring activity in organ systems throughout the body.

The researchers hope surgeons one day can use the sensors to monitor intracranial pressure and temperature in patients suspected of having TBI. These sensors are designed to be absorbed by the body, eliminating the need for surgery to remove them. Further, because these implants dissolve over time, they are unlikely to trigger an immune response, unlike existing offerings.

“[T]he devices commonly used today are based on technology from the 1980s,” Rory K.J. Murphy, a neurosurgery resident at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, says in a statement. “They’re large, they’re unwieldy, and they have wires that connect to monitors in the intensive care unit. They give accurate readings, and they help, but there are ways to make them better.” — Elizabeth Hollis