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Miniature Biosensor Accurately Monitors Condition of Chronic Wounds

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 05 Sep 2022
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Image: The sensor would determine whether the dressing required changing, can come off completely or if the wound is infected (Photo courtesy of NTU)
Image: The sensor would determine whether the dressing required changing, can come off completely or if the wound is infected (Photo courtesy of NTU)

Wounds represent a burgeoning health care issue affecting thousands of patients in all health and social care settings, leading to a spiraling expenditure on an already overloaded health system. One of the most urgent needs in wound management is the development of systems that allow clinicians to identify the early progression or deterioration of wounds. Patients can not currently assess the condition of a wound and health professionals are required to remove the dressing to assess it visually. This can take time as patients require an appointment and removing the dressing too soon risks lengthening the healing process, making scarring worse, or introducing an infection. The dressing also needs replacing each time the wound is checked, which takes more time. Chronic wounds include wounds as a result of serious injury or trauma, ulcers, pressure sores or through diseases such as diabetes. Now, a newly-developed biosensor is capable of accurately monitoring the condition of a chronic wound.

The biosensor has been developed by a team of engineers and clinical academics at Nottingham Trent University (NTU, Nottingham, UK) who are aiming for the technology to be embedded into dressings so that they do not need to be continually removed and replaced to assess how a wound is healing. The team believes that that in time, the technology – a textile-based printed protein sensor – could help to reduce the risk of patients becoming seriously ill, prevent amputation, and save time and money.

The new sensor, which is printed onto fabric would be integrated in the dressing, uses electrodes to analyze the concentration of specific proteins in a wound constantly and in real time. Using app-based technology, the patient would be able to take a reading and receive some simple information by holding a smartphone near to the dressing. They would then be able to book an appointment, if necessary, so that it can be checked by a clinician. The miniature sensor, which is lightweight and flexible, would be able to determine whether the dressing required changing, can come off completely or if the wound has an infection. The researchers believe that now the technology is established, the next step will be to work with consultant clinicians and digital technology providers to look at moving it into commercial products.

“There is currently no way to monitor the condition of a wound without booking an appointment, having the dressing removed and taking a look,” said researcher Dr Yang Wei, an expert in electronic textiles and electronic engineering in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology. “The sensor analyses chemical biomarkers to give an indication of whether a wound is healing or not and could help remove a range of risks associated with continuous and laborious removal and replacement of dressings. As well as improving patients’ quality of life, it could speed up the healing process, help to avoid infection and avoid worsening scars by removing dressings while they are still forming.”

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Nottingham Trent University 

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