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Ingestible Medical Devices

In recent years, the ingestible electronic pill has been shown to be a clinically relevant technology platform, with biomedical applications such as drug delivery, optical imaging for disease diagnosis, and more. Our interdisciplinary work in this area aims to combine circuits and sensing techniques to expand the capabilities of ingestible capsules and enable new diagnostic and treatment applications. In collaboration with Professor Butrus T. Khuri-Yakub's research group, we are developing a Capsule Ultrasound (CUS) device – a low-cost, disposable, wireless imaging sensor that is based on ultrasound technology.

Ultrasound is a technology that is safe, well-understood and widely used today in hospitals around the world as an imaging modality. An example ultrasound system is the ultrasonic endoscope, which is used to examine the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and diagnose a variety of diseases and cancers affecting hundreds of thousands of people each year. Such systems however have several limitations that prevent them from being used as daily screening tools: they tend to be bulky and stationary, while involving lengthy procedures that are expensive and even traumatic for patients.

The CUS device aims to bring ultrasound technology closer to the patient, by tackling the challenge of shrinking it down from its current stationary, bulky form factor, to a disposable pill that can be swallowed at the convenience of the patient. We envision our system to operate as follows: after the pill is swallowed, it travels through the gastrointestinal system. By emitting and receiving ultrasound waves, an ultrasonic sensor array around the pill takes images of the walls of the tract. Unlike optical endoscopes which can only examine the surface of the GI tract, the CUS device simultaneously images deeper layers and even surrounding organs. Then the captured images are wirelessly transmitted to a device worn by the patient, such as a smartphone, and can be used by medical experts for rapid screening for lesions, cancerous tissue, and other diseases.

Towards this goal, we have fabricated and successfully tested the core components of the first generation CUS system: cylindrical capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) array, imaging circuitry with 128 channels and beamforming capability, and wireless transmitter with a 10 Mbps data rate [1-3]. Once integrated, we expect the CUS device to produce 4 frames/s of valuable medical images and operate wirelessly through more than 10 cm of body tissue. In collaboration with Professor Butrus T. Khuri-Yakub’s research group we aim to develop this capsule platform that could in the future enable a vast array of exciting new biomedical and consumer applications on and inside the human body.

Capsule Ultrasound (CUS) device - towards miniaturization of medical ultrasound, enabling rapid screening of the gastrointestinal tract with a disposable ingestible device.

CUS components and block diagram.

Operation of cylindrical ultrasonic transducer array on capsule and example of resulting image.

Fabricated wireless transmitter chip for communicating captured images, an example of its measured output spectrum during transmission, and conceptual wireless operation inside the body.

[1] J. Wang, F. Memon, G. Touma, S. Baltsavias, J. H. Jang, C. Chang, M. F. Rasmussen, E. Olcott, R. B. Jeffrey, A. Arbabian, and B. T. Khuri-Yakub, “Capsule Ultrasound Device: Characterization and Testing Results,” Proc. 2017 IEEE Int. Ultrason. Symp., Washington, DC, 2017.

[2] F. Memon, G. Touma, J. Wang, S. Baltsavias, A. Moini, C. Chang, M. F. Rasmussen, A. Nikoozadeh, J. W. Choe, E. Olcott, R. B. Jeffrey, A. Arbabian, and B. T. Khuri-Yakub, "Capsule Ultrasound Device: Further Developments," Proc. 2016 IEEE Int. Ultrason. Symp., Tours, 2016.

[3] F. Memon, G. Touma, J. Wang, S. Baltsavias, A. Moini, C. Chang, M. F. Rasmussen, A. Nikoozadeh, J. W. Choe, A. Arbabian, R. B. Jeffrey, E. Olcott, and B. T. Khuri-Yakub, "Capsule Ultrasound Device,” Proc. 2015 IEEE Int. Ultrason. Symp., Taipei, 2015.