Advanced testing of medical treatments often involves experimentation on small laboratory animals like genetically modified mice.
The work itself helps researchers develop medication and cures for humans illnesses, and that’s created a need for innovative telemetry systems to enable remote, real-time monitoring of various biological processes. Perhaps the most critical applications of these technologies are related to cardiac monitoring.
Researchers have focused on creating wireless, implantable systems with integrated blood pressure sensors and fully implantable cardiovascular pressure monitors which include a stent. But the design of such systems gets dicey when designers are forced to deal with smaller-sized test subjects as opposed to larger patients like human beings. Large external components – with larger power sources – just won’t fit the bill.
Now work by Kyle G. Fricke at the University of Western Ontario and done under the direction of Dr. Robert Sobot is focusing on the design of a wireless telemetry system architecture, intended to retrieve blood pressure and volume data that, due to its design and prototyping with 3D printing processes, checks in at a svelte 2.475 cm3 and weights just over 4 grams.
The paper on the subject, “Wireless Telemetry System for Implantable Sensors,” is focused on the development of tiny telemetry systems able to capture, process, and transmit specific biological process information to an end device, either wired or wirelessly.
These sorts of biomedical data collectors can grab information from inside a living body. But the issue of size is important in cardiac research. Scientists study what are called “real-time left ventricular pressure-volume loops” as their main tools to analyze the health of myocardium in animals and humans. The PV loop data is used to quantify cardiac pathology like congestive heart failure.
The work is currently done using a four-electrode catheter system inserted into the subject’s left ventricle. It generates an electric field used for continuously measuring such activity, and those catheters are attached to an external base station which prevents the subject from moving freely in a normal environment.
Implants, on the other hand, create a much more useful measuring environment and could contain all sensor electronics, power and data transmission electronics.
Fricke’s work uses 3D modeling and printing where functionality and miniaturization are crucial to the prototyping of the system, and he says 3D printing processes using biocompatible materials like polycarbonate-ISO and various metals are the technology of choice.
The tiny, biocompatible capsules could be located inside a test animal’s body with the catheter so small it could be placed inside the left ventricle of even the smallest test subjects.
Do you know of any ways 3D printing technology is being used to create medical breakthroughs like these telemetric devices? Let us know your thoughts on medical devices and 3D printing in the 3D Printed Telemetric Sensors thread on 3DPB.com.