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Sensors could replace the stethoscope

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Nov20,2023

Sensors could replace the stéthoscope

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Soft sensors could replace the use of the stethoscope in certain situations.

The Canadian Press

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Flexible sensors imagined by a Montreal doctor could replace the use of the stethoscope in certain situations, particularly with premature babies .

Placed directly on the baby's skin, these sensors continuously monitor and map sounds inside the patient's body – for example, the sounds of breathing or digestion – in real time, providing the baby with caregivers with information that goes well beyond episodic measurements obtained during occasional medical examinations.

I really wanted to have a miniaturized version of the stethoscope, but one that went a little further than the stethoscope in the sense that it's not just my ear that listens to the air coming in and the air coming in. comes out, but rather do it intelligently, explained the product's creator, Dr. Wissam Shalish, a neonatologist at the Montreal Children's Hospital, who is also the first co-author of a study published in the journal Nature Medicine (New window) (in English).

Often, the alarms go off and, when we arrive at the (patient's) bedside, we don't really know what happened because it's too late . Having sensors like that allows us to better understand why it sounded, and that data helps us at the bedside.

A quote from Wissam Shalish, Montreal Children's Hospital

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Researchers tested the devices on 15 premature babies with respiratory and intestinal disorders and 55 adults , including 20 suffering from chronic lung diseases.

Dr Shalish and his colleagues, notably at Northwestern University in the United States, tested the devices on fifteen premature babies suffering from respiratory and intestinal disorders and out of fifty-five adults, including twenty who had chronic lung diseases.

Measuring 40 millimeters long and 20 millimeters wide, and just 8 millimeters thick, the sensors contain, among other things, highly sophisticated microphones and accelerometers that create a comprehensive non-invasive sensing network. Their Bluetooth capability allows wireless transmission of recorded data.

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The Bluetooth capability of the sensors allows wireless transmission of recorded data.

The devices, it is assured in a press release, gave results with clinical level precision, in addition to offering new functionalities which had never been developed or introduced in the field. research or clinical care. For example, they are able to separate sounds that come from inside the baby from sounds that come from his environment.

A researcher of Northwestern compared the devices to several highly trained doctors who listen to different areas of the lungs simultaneously using their stethoscope.

Moreover, these are the two main populations that researchers are targeting at the moment: newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit and adults who have undergone surgical intervention, for example a resection which reduced their lung capacity.

I can imagine a scenario with a patient who is intubated and ventilated. Often the tube is not in the right place, or part of the lung collapses and air entry is reduced on one side compared to the other. ;other.

A quote from Wissam Shalish, Montreal Children's Hospital

Currently, he continues, the only way to detect the problem would be to listen to each side with a stethoscope, compare the sounds and try to determine, subjectively, whether one side seems to be receiving more x27;air than the other. The sensors could be more effective by monitoring and comparing both sides in real time.

Apneas, moreover, are very common in premature and are a major cause of prolonged hospitalization, or even death, since obstruction of the airways then restricts air flow.

The new device can continuously monitor babies' breathing and even diagnose apnea subtypes. For example, if sensors were placed on the left and right side of the chest, caregivers could be quickly alerted if it was detected that air entry was reduced on one side compared to to each other.

The devices would also improve babies' comfort by preventing them from having to be undressed and examined by a succession of doctors and nurses, Dr. Shalish said.

And studies have shown that there are a lot of bacteria on stethoscopes, he stressed. If we can reduce the comings and goings, it's (a risk of transmission) less.

The sensors could finally be used to monitor bowel sounds in newborns, since a decrease in these sounds could indicate a problem. An increase in these noises, on the other hand, could demonstrate that the little patient's health is improving, for example in the days following gastrointestinal surgery.

Other studies are underway to continue to validate the effectiveness of the sensors. The researchers also collaborate with partners to develop a commercial version of their product.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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