Polish sensor for non-invasive monitoring of body water level

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

A doctoral candidate at the University of Lodz has built a sensor for non-invasive monitoring of the water level in the body. The device may help in the early detection of heart failure.

Patent applications for the device have been submitted in Poland and abroad. It enables quick and effective assessment of the amount of fluid in the lungs, which could be carried out not only in hospital conditions, but also in primary health care centres. The author of the invention is Maciej Ślot, a doctoral candidate with the Department of Solid State Physics at the University of Lodz.

The objective is to detect fluid congestion in the lungs early in patients with heart failure, which is usually the result of left ventricular heart failure. The heart loses its ability to pump blood effectively to the rest of the body, which leads to a pressure increase in the blood vessels of the lungs (pulmonary circulation). The pressure increase, in turn, causes fluid from the blood to penetrate into the intercellular spaces and alveoli in the lungs. Congestion is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation in patients with decompensated heart failure.

'Unfortunately, currently there is no effective, non-invasive technique to control the amount of fluid in the alveoli. X-ray examinations are the most frequently used methods to assess the amount of potential congestion. However, diagnostics using these imaging methods is based on high-energy ionizing radiation, which cannot be used at excessive frequency,’ Maciej Ślot from the University of Lodz Doctoral School of Exact and Natural Sciences says.

The scientist adds that the current methods require the involvement of radiology specialists and very expensive diagnostic equipment. Alternatively, bioimpedance, a method of measuring body conductivity, is also used to obtain information on patient hydration. However, all diagnostic techniques currently in use have their drawbacks, mainly related to the need for equipment that must be operated by specialised medical personnel and the results must be subjected to expert interpretation.

'Our technique allows us to measure the electrical properties of objects by examining signal transmission and reflection from the material we are examining,’ Ślot says. 'During the examination, we ask a patient to stand between the transmitter and the radio receiver. Then, the device operator adjusts the height of the system to the patient's height,’ he adds.

The next step is to transmit a short low-energy signal that passes through the patient's chest and after a while information about radiation absorption appears. This value increases in patients with heart failure as fluid appears in the lungs and may provide valuable diagnostic information for the physician treating the patient.

'The advantages of the solution include a quick measurement lasting a few seconds, the fact that it is a non-contact method, a very low-energy technique and safe for patients with pacemakers. The device has been submitted for a patent both in Poland and abroad,’ says Ślot.

The research was carried out as part of the project 'Testing the dielectric permittivity of transudate fluid' (Incubator of Innovation 4.0 grant competition) at the Faculty of Physics and Applied Informatics, University of Lodz. The team, whose members were Maciej Ślot, Professor Wielisław Olejniczak, Professor Ilona Zasada (supervisor from the University of Lodz) and Professor Agata Bielecka-Dąbrowa (supervisor from the of Polish Mother's Health Center Institute, Head of Department of Cardiology and Congenital Defects in Adults), worked on the project that resulted in an innovative device. Maciej Ślot has built a cardiac sensor that enables quick and effective assessment of the amount of fluid in the lungs, which could be carried out not only in hospital conditions, but also in primary care units.

A laboratory model of the device has been provided to the Polish Mother's Health Center Institute, where it is used to carry out experimental tests on patients with heart failure. Over 150 patients have been examined. Maciej Ślot talked about his research at the Faculty of Physics and Applied Informatics in an episode of the TVP3 show - Łódzka Nauka. (PAP)

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