A team of researchers at the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL; Lausanne, Switzerland) have developed a continuous drug monitoring sensor that can measure anesthetic levels in patients during surgery.
The researchers, from EPFL’s Integrated Systems Laboratory working in association with the Lausanne University Hospital (Lausanne, Switzerland) and the Polytechnic University of Turin (Turin, Italy) reported their findings in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems.
The biosensor measures propofol concentrations in a patient’s blood. Using sensor electrodes, the novel ‘smart-pen’ electronic system offers a less costly and less bulky method of monitoring drug concentrations in human serum. Shaped like a syringe, the electronics for the sensors are housed in a central control box and measurements are analyzed using artificial intelligence.
During a typical surgery, anesthesiologists ensure that the patient does not wake up during the surgery and has no memory of the procedure using the smallest possible dose of drug. Successful surgeries rely on a very particular mixture of drugs and anesthetics. However, the actual drug concentration within a patient’s body is often unknown, which not only makes an anesthesiologist’s job harder but may have significant consequences during surgery.
By monitoring drug concentrations in human serum throughout surgery, doses can be adjusted accordingly in real-time, paving the way for personalized drug administration during surgery. Sandro Carrara, a professor at the EPFL, stated:
“Scientists have been working for years to develop sensors that can instantly measure blood concentrations of compounds in anesthetized patients so that doctors can personalize the doses…Propofol is one of the main compounds used in anesthesia, but it’s also one of the hardest to measure.”
Pharmacology professor and chief of the Lausanne University Hospital’s clinical pharmacology division, Thierry Buclin, added:
“Propofol is one of the best anesthetics out there but getting the dosage just right can be complicated. So, an easy-to-use system that can monitor propofol concentrations in the operating room would be a major step forward in surgery and intensive care.”
Having already confirmed the accuracy of their biosensor through machine learning, the team hopes to conduct in vivo tests in the future.
Sources: Aiassa S, Ros PM, Hanitra MIN et al. Smart portable pen for continuous monitoring of anaesthetics in human serum with machine learning. IEEE Trans. Biomed. Circuits Syst. 15(2), 294–302 (2021); www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/epfd-mos052821.php
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