Glowing liquid bandage monitors oxygen levels in transplanted tissue

December 28, 2020
Glowing liquid bandage monitors oxygen levels in transplanted tissue

Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), US, may have found a way around using wired oximeters to monitor tissue oxygenation: a liquid bandage that glows in response to the levels of oxygen in the tissue.

A camera with a flash is used to excite the phosphorescent materials in the liquid bandage, which glows from red to green depending on how much oxygen is present in the tissue.

Conor L. Evans, Principal investigator at MGH’s Wellman Centre for Photomedicine, said the liquid bandage prototype – tested out on five women undergoing breast reconstruction surgery – performed just as well as the gold standard. After 48 hours of monitoring following the surgery, the MGH team found the readings on transplanted tissue, including skin, fat, arteries and blood vessels, in flaps provided by the bandage correlated with the readings from the oximeter.

While regarded as the gold standard, wired oximeters can be difficult to use, is inconvenient for the patient, and may give false readings based on lighting conditions and the patient’s movements, according to Evans.

“Our trial showed that the transparent liquid bandage detected tissue oxygenation as well as the gold standard of an oximeter. The standalone bandage is a major advancement from a wired oximeter that restricts a patient’s movements and is complicated to use.”

The team imagines the oxygen-sensing liquid bandage would help to improve the success rates of tissue transplants, skin grafts for burns and wound healing. They have since added a battery to the liquid bandage to make it self-powered and remove the need for a camera; and are now drawing up a clinical trial to explore how well the bandage can detect transplanted tissue that is failing due to a lack of oxygen.

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