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Stanford University researchers have developed an arterial-pulse sensor to wirelessly monitor blood flow, an advance that could allow doctors to remotely monitor the success of blood vessel surgery. The biodegradable, battery-free and wireless sensor doesn't need to be removed from a patient and can warn doctors of an arterial blockage. The compact sensor is detailed in a paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. According to Stanford, the sensor wraps around the healing vessel, where blood pulsing past pushes on its inner surface. As the shape of that surface changes, it alters the sensor's capacity to store electric charge, which doctors can detect remotely from a device located near the skin but outside wearable device or smartphone. The researchers first tested the sensor by pumping air through an artery-sized tube to mimic pulsing blood flow. They also implanted the sensor around an artery in a rat. The sensor then successfully reported blood flow to the wireless reader. At this point, the team were interested in detecting complete blockages, but they did see indications that future versions of this sensor could identify finer fluctuations of blood flow. The sensor is a wireless version of technology that chemical engineer Zhenan Bao has been developing to give prostheses a sense of touch.
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