A new technology can sew sensors into tissue, and potentially spot and treat issues before they arise

A team of researchers from Tufts University are developing a prototype for smart stitches which can be used like ordinary stitches to seal wounds, but will double as real-time data trackers. The stitches will periodically send updates directly to the doctors treating the injury. By creating multiple thread types which form a more complex arrays of sensors when woven together, the smart stitches can be achieved.

 

Perhaps the two most important of the threads are those that can transmit small doses of electricity made by dipping strings of cotton in conductive ink alongside those that could carry liquid through human tissue. In unison with other materials, the scientists were able to adapt materials to gauge strain exerted by muscles, measure the chemical composition and pH levels of tissue, and measure glucose concentration, temperature and pressure. Though there’s a lot of work to be done, specifically in terms of accuracy of the readings, the initial prototype is capably proving the diverse potential of ‘smartening’ a 5000-year-old practice to ensure the safety of patients and alert doctors before the onset of bacterial infections and other diseases.

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