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: Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance

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

Researcher explores drone-driven crop management

21 hours ago

A flock of pigeons flies over the soybean field where J. Craig Williams is standing. He reaches down and rips off a brown pod from one of the withered plants and splits it open. Grabbing a tiny bean between ...

Wireless electronic implants stop staph, then dissolve

Nov 24, 2014

Researchers at Tufts University, in collaboration with a team at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, have demonstrated a resorbable electronic implant that eliminated bacterial infection in mice ...

Scientist develops uncrackable code for nuclear weapons

Nov 24, 2014

Mark Hart, a scientist and engineer in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) Defense Technologies Division, has been awarded the 2015 Surety Transformation Initiative (STI) Award from the National ...

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.