This Wearable Ultrasound Sticker Can Continuously Image Organs for 48 Hours

Ultrasound is a convenient, noninvasive tool for doctors to look inside the human body and check out a person’s liver, heart and other internal structures, as well as the developing fetus of a pregnant patient. But today’s ultrasound imaging technology is large and technical, so it’s only available in healthcare facilities and must be operated by highly trained technicians. Plus, patients, who take time out of their schedules to go to an appointment, have to be covered in a sticky gel.


Now, researchers say they’ve developed an innovative solution to some of these challenges. Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have unveiled a new adhesive ultrasound patch that’s about the size of a postage stamp and can provide continuous imaging of the body’s inner workings for up to 48 hours. The scientists shared their new technology in a paper published last week in the journal Science.


“We believe we’ve opened a new era of wearable imaging,” says Xuanhe Zhao, a mechanical engineer at MIT and one of the study’s authors, in a statement. “With a few patches on your body, you could see your internal organs.” In the past, engineers developing wearable ultrasound technologies have run into issues with image quality and flexibility, but the new MIT stickers seem to have struck the right balance. To create the small devices, which are about three millimeters thick and two square centimeters in size, engineers combined rigid transducers with a stretchy, sticky layer that encapsulates a layer of water-based hydrogel.

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