By Jason Lucas
Johns Hopkins University
Device detects fluid buildup in tissue and alerts patients and their doctors, potentially preventing thousands of cancer patients from developing the debilitating condition
A sensor created by Johns Hopkins University graduate students to detect very early-stage lymphedema could spare thousands of patients a year, including many women with breast cancer, from the painful, debilitating condition.
Lymphedema is a gradual buildup of lymphatic fluid in the extremities, often following cancer treatment, that causes swelling and pain. It’s treatable if caught early, but once a patient feels something wrong, it’s typically too late for low-impact treatment.
The inexpensive, non-invasive patch-like sensor would be the first tool available to allow patients to test their fluid levels at home, in about as much time as it takes to brush their teeth.
“Early detection is the key,” said the creative team’s co-leader Hunter Hutchinson. “We want to prevent the disease from getting to the point where a patient needs a long, complicated surgery.”
The group of six students from the university’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design program started developing the sensor they call LymphaSense last year, adapting technology currently used to detect IV infiltration.
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