Rapid Method to Detect Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Rapid Method to Detect Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Healthcare Tech Outlook | Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Autonomous sensor-embedded diaper will easily diagnose urinary tract infections in diaper wearing individuals without any hassle.

FREMONT, CA: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common diseases among most of the people. It is very dangerous in the case of babies because they cannot even express the pain and other symptoms related to UTI. To find out Urinary tract infections in babies, engineers at Purdue University have developed a sensor-embedded diaper that can accurately point to the presence of a bacterial infection in the urinary tract.

UTI is one of the most common bacterial infections, which poses a significant healthcare burden. In U.S., urinary tract infections are responsible for more than five million doctor visits every year. The researchers of Purdue University tested the prototype with synthetic urine samples and concluded that the result is more accurate than commercial dipsticks. With this, the disposable device is more accurate in detecting infections with proof.

Frequent urination, foul smell, bladder spasm, cloudy urine, dark urine, sense of incomplete bladder emptying, or blood in the urine are some of the symptoms of UTI. It develops when bacteria get into the urinary tract and multiplies, leading to redness and pain in the urinary tract.

Generally, the standard culture-based diagnosis of UTI has a typical delay of two to three days from sample acquisition to delivery of the culture and susceptibility results. This delay is due to the need for sample transport to the centralized laboratories and the time required for the bacteria to grow on an artificial media for phenotypic identification. The newly designed biosensors deal with the time delay and obtain rapid, definitive POC diagnosis of UTI. It will enable to initiate timely antibiotic treatment for the patients.

Nowadays, as blood sugar test and pregnancy tests can be done from home itself, in the same way, the biosensors will significantly improve UTI diagnosis at home. The biosensors are emerging as a powerful platform to diagnose infections. These are amenable to integration with microfluidic technology for point-of-care applications. The study focuses on promising biosensor technology for UTI diagnosis, including pathogen identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing and hurdles in the translation of biosensor technology from bench to bedside. Portability, rapidity, and cost-effectiveness are the three crucial aspects of a clinical biosensor.

To check UTIs at doctor's place, the patient has to give a urine sample for testing infection, but the individuals who use diapers make these samples challenging to collect.

A professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, Babak Ziaie mentioned two significant advantages of the device, as it is autonomous, so it doesn't require the patient to obtain urine samples. Either it can also detect an infection in people who are not able to communicate their symptoms, or they do not show typical symptoms.

The advanced, automated, and bandage-sized sensor activates when it is exposed to urine while the battery powers the sensor circuitry. The biosensor can diagnose urinary tract infection by checking for nitrites, and other common chemicals associated with UTI. The autonomous feature improves accuracy because it checks for UTIs regularly and then forwards the results via a smartphone to the patient, caregiver, and health care network if required.

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