Remote Care

UCSD’s Wearable Cardiac Ultrasound Milestone

A team of UCSD scientists took a major step towards changing how, when, and where cardiac ultrasound exams are performed, unveiling the first fully integrated wearable ultrasound system intended for continuous heart monitoring.

UCSD’s wearable ultrasound tech has been in development for several years, releasing a steady flow of improvements (e.g. ultrasound sensor, wearable flexibility and skin adherence, data extraction/calculation), but the device’s new fully integrated design represents a major milestone on its path to becoming a real medical device.

  • The wireless ultrasound now combines an ultrasound sensor and small flexible control circuit within a single wearable system.
  • That combination freed the ultrasound patch from the cables that it previously relied on for power and data transmission – those cables also kept it from being a “truly wearable device.” 
  • Since mobility can create motion problems, the team also added a new machine learning algorithm that automatically analyzes signals and instructs the ultrasound sensor how to track targeted tissues as they move, and then interprets incoming data.

Although there’s more work to be done, the wearable ultrasound now captures signals from tissues as deep as 164 mm (6.45 in), allowing patients and their clinicians to continuously track a range of key cardiovascular metrics for up to twelve hours per session:

  • Central blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Cardiac output
  • Arterial stiffness
  • Ejection fraction
  • Stroke volume
  • And other physiological signals

The UCSD team next plans to test their wearable ultrasound among larger populations and for a broader range of clinical applications, as they make their way towards real world clinical use and commercialization.

The Takeaway

In recent years we’ve seen echo systems become smaller, more powerful, and easier to use, but cardiac ultrasound is still largely confined to dedicated clinical settings and skilled practitioners.That’s reasonable given the complexity of echo technology and patient physiology, but it also makes UCSD’s latest advancements seem like an important milestone as cardiac ultrasound catches up with other modalities that already have a central role in remote cardiac monitoring programs.

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