By using NFC on cell phones to measure in-situ pressure and temperature in surgery areas, physicians can minimize their patients' stays while decreasing complications through earlier diagnosis.
RECENTLY, near-field communications (NFC) has garnered a lot of headlines for its growing niche in mobile-payment systems. Yet the latest generation of NFC cell phones also is host to a novel wireless monitoring kit for post-surgery applications, which was recently announced by GENTAG, Inc., Third Technology Capital Investors, and The CORE Institute. Using their cell phones, this fully integrated, medical-grade kit allows patients to perform self-monitoring for pressure buildup around surgical areas or inside casts after hospital discharge (i.e., compartment syndrome monitoring).

The technology is based on an ultra-linear NFC microelectromechanicalsystems (MEMS) hybrid chip with 1-mm mercury (Hg) pressure-measurement precision and 0.1C temperature accuracy. It offers a pressure measurement range from -50 to +300 mm Hg while the orthopedic diagnostic range covers +20 to +40 mm Hg. The factory calibrated kit is fully programmable via cell phones or PCs. The internal battery can be recharged via a standard USB cable. Standard battery life is estimated at more than two weeks with a light-emitting-diode (LED) indicator showing battery life.

The kit uses exchangeable pressure probeseither saline or air. In addition, pressure probes smaller than 1 mm are available. An application-specific-integrated-circuit (ASIC) version can even be converted to Band-Aid format. Applications include monitoring of post-orthopedic surgery, back pressure and bed sores, and excessive pressure in casts (see figure). Other medical applications are under development.

The kit was developed during the past year by GENTAG and its partners under the specifications and medical guidance of a team of US orthopedic surgeons. That team was led by Dr. David Jacofsky, Chairman of The CORE Institute, and Dr. Roy Sanders, President of Florida Orthopedic Institute. The technology is covered under worldwide issued and pending patents.

The kit is already available for limited post-orthopedic-surgery trials. Commercial production is expected in 2012, starting first with pressure monitoring in casts. The technology will be fully compatible with Google, BlackBerry, Nokia, Samsung, and other brand NFC cell phones integrating the NFC chip. It also will be able to be bundled with low-cost, custom NFC cell phones (e.g., GENTAG's GT-601) as low-cost, hospital-discharge wireless-monitoring kits.