Researchers from Holst Centre have achieved a breakthrough in the quest for a low-cost ultrasound monitoring solution. The new system combines the center’s extensive knowledge on ultrasound technology, printed electronics and health patches, to create a next-generation, radiation-free medical imaging solution. The hands-free patch enables comfortable continuous and safe at-home monitoring. By producing these patches in high quantities at low costs, and the fact that the technology doesn’t require trained medical staff, the solution is also expected to open the door to much wider availability in developing countries.
Current ultrasound systems require manual manipulation by a highly skilled operator and offer a small field of view. Through a unique, printed architecture, Holst Centre has made it possible to create large-area, flexible transducer arrays that reduce operator variability and open the door to hands-free ultrasound systems. These systems use AI technology to compare and interpret data sets over time, and this requires reproducible images taken from the same position and area of the body. Therefore, the ultrasound-on-foil technology potentially allows millions of individual transducers to be integrated into an adhesive patch, enabling higher resolution and improved image quality, as well as a wider field of view. Optimized polymers and adhesives in the patch potentially provide better acoustic impedance matching the human body, eliminating the need for the gels used in a traditional ultrasound scan. Such patches can be used, for example, for at-home monitoring of high-risk pregnancies and arterial plaque build-up.