Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Real-time monitoring of transplant organs


Human organs deteriorate rapidly without free-flowing blood. The condition, known as ischemia, can be a problem during surgical operations or the transport of graft organs. MICROTRANS’ answer is a small silicon needle with multiple sensors, capable of continuously measuring the electrical impedance of tissues.

Heart surgeons carefully monitor a beating heart on an electrocardiograph. But if they need to artificially stop the heart during a procedure, these measurements may be lacking for as long as 30 minutes.

In the MICROCARD project, an earlier project funded under the European Commission’s ESPRIT programme, European researchers tested a system that continuously monitors the condition of organs. They came up with a needle-shaped microsensor, carved from a silicon wafer, for inserting directly into an organ. Its chemical sensors assessed parameters such as pH and potassium, but were more accurate in chemical solutions than in living tissues.

So in the follow-up three-year project MICROTRANS, researchers from four countries concentrated on developing and testing sensors that measure electrical impedance. Results showed these sensors are ideal for checking the health of organs during artificially induced ischemia - during cardiac surgery or when transported in a cool-box from the donor to the recipient, a period lasting up to 24 hours.

Doctors currently employ several methods to assess the effects of ischemia on transplant organs; none are very effective or accurate. Most transplant surgeons therefore rely on visual inspections to decide if an organ can be successfully transplanted or not.

The new system provides a much better picture of the organ. Just over a centimetre in length and a less than a millimetre wide, the tiny probe measures the temperature, pH, potassium and impedance of the tissues. "It is very robust and sensitive," says Toni Ivorra, an electronic engineer from the Spanish company coordinating the project, CNM.

The project also developed a module for the cool-boxes used to carry transplant organs. It includes a radio transmitter which sends the probe’s readings to a personal digital assistant (PDA) mounted on the box. If the organ’s temperature rises too much during transport, the system will generate an alarm. At the destination hospital, the surgeon can check the PDA screen or download its data to a computer. The result, say the researchers, is fewer discarded organs and more successful transplants.

This silicon needle may have other niche applications. It could improve food security by monitoring the quality of meat, fruit and vegetables during their storage and/or growth phases.

Price should be no barrier to the commercialisation of this multiprobe microsensor, because the whole system is designed to be disposable. But Ivorra admits that transplant physicians may need convincing that electrical-impedance sensors are better than chemical ones.

Exploitation rights for the patented system are held by project partner Carburos Metálicos (Air Products). It is working with two other partners, i2m and the National Centre for Microelectronics of Barcelona, on an industrial prototype for testing in European hospitals and laboratories. If successful, a system comprising the transplant transport module, the needle, electronics and telemetry equipment could be on the market in two years.

Professor Jordi Aguiló
Centro Nacional de Microelectronica
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Campus Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
E-08193 Bellaterra
Tel: +34-9-35947700
Fax: +34-9-358014 96

Tara Morris | IST Results
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inflammation Triggers Unsustainable Immune Response to Chronic Viral Infection
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>