Inspired by wounded warriors, new paint-on, see-through bandage not only protects wounds and severe burns but enables direct measurement of tissue oxygenation
Inspired by a desire to help wounded soldiers, an international, multidisciplinary team of researchers led by Assistant Professor Conor L. Evans at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) has created a paint-on, see-through, “smart” bandage that glows to indicate a wound’s tissue oxygenation concentration. Because oxygen plays a critical role in healing, mapping these levels in severe wounds and burns can help to significantly improve the success of surgeries to restore limbs and physical functions. The work was published today in The Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journalBiomedical Optics Express.
“Information about tissue oxygenation is clinically relevant but is often inaccessible due to a lack of accurate or noninvasive measurements,” explained lead author Zongxi Li, an HMS research fellow on Evans’ team.
Now, the “smart” bandage developed by the team provides direct, noninvasive measurement of tissue oxygenation by combining three simple, compact and inexpensive components: a bright sensor molecule with a long phosphorescence lifetime and appropriate dynamic range; a bandage material compatible with the sensor molecule that conforms to the skin’s surface to form an airtight seal; and an imaging device capable of capturing the oxygen-dependent signals from the bandage with high signal-to-noise ratio.
This work is part of the team’s long-term program “to develop a Sensing, Monitoring And Release of Therapeutics (SMART) bandage for improved care of patients with acute or chronic wounds,” says Evans, senior author on the Biomedical Optics Express paper.
How exactly does a ‘smart’ bandage work?
For starters, the bandage’s not-so-secret key ingredient is phosphors—molecules that absorb light and then emit it via a process known as phosphorescence.
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