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Device monitors five critical blood levels in real time

23 October 2015

EPFL has developed a miniaturised microfluidic device that allows clinicians to monitor, in real time, levels of glucose, lactate, bilirubin, calcium and potassium.

A device developed at EPFL is capable of monitoring in real-time five vital substances for patients in ICU, along with a preview of the tablet app designed to monitor the values (photo: Alain Herzog/EPFL)

No larger than a pack of chewing gum, the prototype developed by Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne's (EPFL's) Integrated Systems Laboratory (LSI) contains embedded biosensors to measure several different substances in blood or blood serum and is able to transmit the results in real time to a tablet via Bluetooth.

Capable of being connected to a drainage tube that's already in place, the new system is much less invasive than the many monitoring devices that it's designed to replace. It keeps constant tabs on the blood levels of five substances: metabolites (glucose, lactate and bilirubin) and ions (calcium and potassium), all of which indicate changes in the condition of intensive-care patients.

"Nowadays, several of these levels are measured periodically. But in some cases, any change in level calls for an immediate response, something that is not possible with the existing systems," says LSI's Dr Sandro Carrara. The development could also significantly reduce the number of machines cluttered around patients.

The prototype, which was manufactured via 3D printing, has been successfully tested on rodents. Discussions are now under way for tests to be carried out at the University Hospital of Lausanne. A number of manufacturers have already expressed interest in developing the device.

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