Sensors Help Advance Health Care

Several recent announcements have described sensors for faster, less costly, and less intrusive disease detection as well as other types of health care. In the former category, the new superDimension/Bronchus System (SDBS) works like a GPS, letting physicians navigate toward suspicious masses throughout the lungs in real time. The technology enables a minimally invasive procedure for more accurate and earlier diagnosis of lung masses. Standard bronchoscopy cannot reach the periphery of the lungs where most masses are located, but SDBS can. (

Another promising new technology provides quick and inexpensive assessment of urinary tract infections (UTIs). A UCLA clinical study used a biosensor by GeneFluidics to correctly identify the infection-causing gram-negative bacteria species in 98% of tested samples—within 45 minutes. (,

CardioMEMS' EndoSure sensor monitors pressure within aneurysms
CardioMEMS' EndoSure sensor monitors pressure within aneurysms

A third, Masimo Rainbow's Rad-57 Pulse CO-Oximeter, has won the Society for Technology in Anesthesia's 2006 Application of Technology award. A University of Arizona study evaluated the device's ability to directly measure the effects of CO inhalation and concluded that it represents a major advance over current methods. The portable Rad-57 uses light for noninvasive measurement using a finger clip. (

Patient Monitoring From the Inside Out

The FDA has approved CardioMEMS Inc.'s EndoSure implantable wireless sensor for testing blood pressure in people with an abdominal aortic aneurysm—ruptures of which rank as the 13th leading cause of death in the U.S. Patients require lifetime monitoring; traditional methods are expensive and time consuming, and reveal only the size of an aneurysm, whereas EndoSure monitors its crucial internal pressure. (,

Another device, this one a heart and respiration rate monitor (HRRM), can also identify and locate individuals who wander and is hoped to aid facilities whose patients are prone to unintentionally leaving the premises. The location-tracking option uses wireless communication modules integral to the HRRM that Wireless 2000 is developing for its partner AMS Homecare. The HRRM fits beneath a patient's bed frame or behind the backrest of a wheelchair and patients can wear small location tags. A reader can automatically lock exit doors when it detects an approaching "wanderer." In the event that the monitored patient still manages to leave the premises, the system will alert the staff members, who can then track the patient outside using a handheld device. (,

An exclusive 20-year agreement allows AMS Homecare to apply Nemesysco's Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) technology to the North American residential and residential care security market. LVA analyzes sound wave frequencies of the human voice to provide an emotional/psychological profile of the speaker. AMS intends to incorporate the technology within its Integrated Emergency Response monitoring system and within a general home security system. The technology can reveal psychological parameters in the voice to determine degrees of deception, stress, voice manipulation and other traits, and can be used in conjunction with psychological testing to determine the health or risk of a patient. (,,