New intracranial sensor serves to measure cerebral pressure

Nov 01, 2012
View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor. Credit: Fraunhofer IBMT

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia and could destroy the brain. Companies have been seeking to find monitoring sensors that can be implanted into the brain, and read from outside the body. A tiny sensor may provide the help needed.

To this day it remains a mystery why the cerebral pressure in certain people suddenly increases. The consequences, however, are better understood: The is disrupted and after a while may die off, similar to what occurs in a stroke. This is how takes its insidious path. Experts estimate that up to ten percent of all cases of dementia in Europe can be attributed to rising blood pressure in the brain. Still, making the diagnosis is tough. People with a heightened susceptibility to a rise in intracranial pressure must be treated with intensive medical care today. A probe is inserted that goes from the outside through the skullcap to the brain. The cable keeps the patient connected to the measuring apparatus. Since cerebral pressure fluctuates, it takes extensive measurements in order to reach a of this disease. Patients therefore have to stay in hospital  typically for several days, and sometimes even weeks.

Moisture corrodes predecessor prototypes

For some time now, engineers have been working on an intracranial pressure probe that operates without a cable and can be read from the outside using radio wave transmission. But there is no established product on the market to this date for long-term implantation, because the always have the same problem: Their casing – which previously had been produced primarily from biologically accepted synthetics – allows moisture to penetrate, which destroys the sensor in just a few days – or even hours. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for IBMT in St. Ingbert have now developed a small sensor that really stays waterproof. They had to give up the idea of encasing a sensor with synthetic materials. Instead, they produced the casing from high-grade metal. From the outside, the probe resembles a thick button cell battery. It is only about one centimeter high, two centimeters wide and in the future, should get even smaller. Resting on its inside is a pressure sensor made of silicon, similar to those sensors used today in automobiles, to handle the demanding measurement tasks.

"The cover of the tiny metal container is made from a pliable metal membrane that reacts to pressure changes in the brain," as project manager Dr. Thomas Velten, manager of the department of biomedical microsystems at IBMT, describes the unique aspects of the system. This pressure is transmitted to the silicon chip on the inside. The measurement value is transmitted to the measuring device outside the body through a radio impulse. "The benefits are immense," says Velten. "The patient no longer has to be checked in on an inpatient basis but  comes to the clinic for a brief measurement appointment instead."

The sensor is read from the outside within seconds. It operates without batteries, since it is activated by the reading device. Thus, the patient can wear it for several months, or even a number of years, without requiring additional surgery. During the Medica trade fair which takes place in Düsseldorf from November 14 to 17, 2012, researchers from IBMT will demonstrate how the sensor functions using a glass model head at the Fraunhofer joint exhibition stand in Hall 10, stand F05. "We will demonstrate the new kind of intracranial pressure sensor from the medical device technology industry, and seek to discuss it with other device manufacturers."

Explore further: First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sensor in artery measures blood pressure

Jan 05, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- High blood pressure can be a trial of patience for doctors and for sufferers, whose blood pressure often has to be monitored over a long time until it can be regulated. This will now be made ...

Pressure sensors in the eye

Sep 03, 2007

Sensors can monitor production processes, unmask tiny cracks in aircraft hulls, and determine the amount of laundry in a washing machine. In future, they will also be used in the human body and raise the alarm ...

Using radio signals to prevent heart failure

Oct 01, 2010

Increased pressure in the heart is a warning sign - it may indicate heart failure. In the future, a battery-less miniature sensor implanted in a patient’s heart could be used to transmit on-demand cardiac ...

Blood diagnosis -- chip-based and mobile

Oct 01, 2009

The analysis takes just a few minutes and the doctor knows straight-away whether there are any pathogens in the blood. An improved marker-free technique provides the basis for faster analysis, whether in a ...

Pressure sensors on alert

Mar 24, 2010

Vacuum panels are particularly good for insulating buildings -- as long as the vacuum does not leak. A tiny pressure sensor constantly checks the condition of the vacuum and indicates whether the insulation ...

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

15 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

23 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

23 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

Dec 19, 2014

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.