This gold-coloured, wheel-like pattern may look like a temporary tattoo, but in fact it’s a device for monitoring blood flow in the vessels underneath the skin. Scientists have been developing ultra-thin, highly elastic, wearable films like this one to enable medical devices to be attached to human skin – or indeed organs – with minimum discomfort and difficulty. And this little gizmo is the latest version. It simply sticks onto to the forearm or fingertip of a patient and its tiny metallic thermal sensors detect the movement of heat caused by flowing blood. Monitoring blood flow is essential for assessing health in a range of vascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, but existing devices are bulky and awkward to wear or, worse still, require the patient to be immobilised. This miniature, flexible, stick-on sensor by contrast allows patients to move normally enabling monitoring during regular activities.
Written by Ruth Williams
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