What can be better than an epicardial patch that can adhere flexibly to the heart, move with the heartbeat, monitor and record, and provide treatment too?
Researchers at the University of Houston have developed an epicardial patch. The epicardial patch is one of its kind as it can monitor as well as provide treatment. The available implantable heart devices, like pacemakers, are rigid. In other words, they do not move flexibly with the heart muscles. Other devices, if soft, collect limited data only. However, the epicardial patch is flexible. The flexible epicardial patch has the ability to flexibly and flawlessly adhere to the pericardium and move with the heartbeat. Additionally, the patch can monitor accurately from multiple locations (spatiotemporal mapping) on the heart; that too without damaging the muscles of the heart. Moreover, it can administer treatments, such as thermal ablation and heart pacing.
The beating of the heart provides power to the patch, i.e., it does not need an external source. It can collect data regarding the electrophysiological activity, temperature, and strain.
Cunjiang Yu, a principal investigator with the Texas Center and a researcher involved in this study, said:
“The device marks the first time bioelectronics has been developed based on fully rubbery electronic materials that are compatible with heart tissue; hence allowing the device to solve the limitations of previous cardiac implants, which are mainly made out of rigid electronic materials.”
He also added:
“Unlike bioelectronics primarily based on rigid materials with mechanical structures that are stretchable on the macroscopic level; constructing bioelectronics out of materials with moduli matching those of the biological tissues suggests a promising route towards next-generational bioelectronics and biosensors that do not have a hard-soft interface for the heart and other organs. Our rubbery epicardial patch is capable of multiplexed ECG mapping; strain and temperature sensing, electrical pacing, thermal ablation and energy harvesting functions.”
Not only can it monitor, but the researchers have designed the patch well enough to make therapeutic interventions.
“For people who have a heart arrhythmia or a heart attack, you need to quickly identify the problem. This device can do that.”
Source: University of Houston