Researchers at Tufts University are experimenting with smart thread sutures that could provide electronic feedback to recovering patients. The paper, entitled “A toolkit of thread-based microfluidics, sensors, and electronics for 3D tissue embedding for medical diagnosis”, is fairly academic, but does describe how threads can work as pH sensors, strain gauges, blood sugar monitors, temperature monitors, and more.
Conductive thread is nothing new but usually thought of as part of a smart garment. In this case, the threads close up wounds and are thus directly in the patient’s body. In many cases, the threads talked to an XBee LilyPad or a Bluetooth Low Energy module so that an ordinary cell phone can collect the data.
Of course, sewing strange conductive thread into your body isn’t something most would try out on their own. Still, some of the thread techniques could be useful in other contexts.
We’ve looked at conductive thread several times in the past. We also saw conductive thread in a jacket to help kids learn to ski (which coincidentally used a Flora, similar to a LilyPad).
4 thoughts on “Smart Sutures”
The trick will be to make them dissolve after they’re not needed, and to not secrete any of the toxic elements that often go into solid-state electronics into the patient.
Maybe they’ll dissolve and the rare metals will give me superpowers!
I wonder if they could be used to detect toxic byproducts from bacterial infections to give a quick heads up to a wound infection?
The bluetooth seems like it would be a small consolation to the rat with those micro-grabbers hanging off its stomach. I wonder if the variable resistance of the suture could be used as part of an antenna where you could apply RF energy externally and back out the resistance based on what’s reflected. (I’m not an RF guy, I just don’t see how that BLE module contributes anything to the study.)
Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)