Implant takes the pressure for the hypertensive

A tiny implant developed at the Fraunhofer Institute could make life a lot easier for patients who need long-term blood-pressure monitoring.

The sensor was developed by Fraunhofer researchers together with the company Dr Osypka GmbH and other partners in the German government-funded project Hyper-IMS (Intravascular Monitoring System for Hypertension Patients). It is aimed at patients with high blood pressure who have to wear a blood pressure meter and keep pumping it up to take measurements themselves. The Fraunhofer sensor reports blood pressure automatically to an electronic receiver.

“A doctor introduces the pressure sensor directly into the femoral artery in the groin,” said Hoc Khiem Trieu of the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg. “The sensor, which has a diameter of about 1mm including its casing, measures the patient’s blood pressure 30 times per second.

“It is connected via a flexible micro-cable to a transponder unit, which is likewise implanted in the groin under the skin. This unit digitises and encodes the data coming from the micro-sensor and transmits them to an external reading device that patients can wear like a cell phone on their belt. From there, the readings can be forwarded to a monitoring station and analyzed by the doctor.”

The micro-implants can be supplied with electricity wirelessly using induction coils. Implantable pressure sensors are also suitable for other applications, such as monitoring patients suffering from cardiac insufficiency. The researchers are currently performing the first clinical trials.

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