Medics will be able to monitor patients’ wounds without having to remove the dressing when it becomes commercially available in 2017.
It is the result of a successful collaboration between Tyndall National Institute in Cork, Fleming Medical in Limerick and the Holst Centre/ TNO in the Netherlands.
The smart dressing, called DermaTrax, contains sensors that monitor conditions in a patient’s wound, including temperature, moisture and acidity. Nurses and other medical staff can be alerted to the possible presence of infection and other healing issues without having to remove the dressing.
The miniature sensor module has been developed by Tyndall, Ireland’s largest research centre that specialises in information and communications technology hardware and systems.
Tyndall has been working on the project with Fleming Medical, a leading medical equipment provider and the Holst Centre, experts in wireless sensor technologies.
DermaTrax will monitor the condition of the wound and the dressing itself, relaying information to a nurses’ station via a wireless link.
Chief executive of Fleming Medical, Mark Fleming, said DermaTrax would revolutionise current wound care practice where the dressing is manually removed and the wound visually inspected.
“This is time consuming for the nursing staff, uncomfortable for the patient and disturbs the natural healing process,” he said.
“This hi-tech dressing will generate savings in healthcare costs, due to reduced clinical inspection time and shorter hospital stays as a result of faster wound healing,” he said.
Mr Fleming said they now had a working prototype and wanted to develop it commercially.
“We will also have a version available from pharmacies, with patients reimbursed under the drugs payment scheme,” he said.
Head of information and communications technology for health at Tyndall, Paul Galvin, said the project would increase Ireland’s standing as an international hub for medical device research and development.
Programme manager at Holst Centre/ TNO, Jeroen van den Brand, said one of its activities was developing health patches that measured various vital signs so the smart dressing fitted perfectly within the scope of the research.
The project, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020, is also supported by Enterprise Ireland.