Engineers at University of California San Diego have developed a device for measuring the electric activity of the muscles of the guts in people that are ambulating and throughout the day. The device has 10 electrodes that are placed on the skin over the abdomen similar to how ECG electrodes are attached. It measures the myoelectric activity for up to 24 hours straight, which is indicative of the muscle motion taking place beneath.
The researchers tested their device on ten children and one adult, comparing their readings against those obtained with more traditional means, including a catheter (manometry). They found a good deal of correlation and foresee their technology being used to gain a greater understanding of the digestive system and how it is controlled by the brain, PO intake, and environmental variables.
In terms of clinical use, it may be very useful to have capabilities for long-term monitoring of the gut. These days tests are done only at the clinic and there no available long-term gut monitors similar to cardiac monitors that are used regularly to spot arrhythmias.
The technical challenges of developing the new device involved being able to spot true signals coming from the gut among the rest of the electrical noise that our bodies produce. The heart, for example, generates an order of magnitude stronger electric signal than the digestive muscles.
“I have been practicing pediatric gastroenterology and taking care of patients for 20 years,” in a statement said Dr. Hayat Mousa of the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “The only method to assess gastrointestinal motility involves placing motility catheters in the GI tracts while kids are sedated or under general anesthesia. It has been a long journey discussing the benefits of doing such an invasive procedure with my patients and their families. My challenge has always been finding a test that offers a non-invasive assessment of the enteric nervous system and its connection with brain function. The technique outlined in this paper is the best way to evaluate children with motility and functional GI disorders. It provides the information without need for sedation and it offers the flexibility to monitor kids while they continue their daily activities. This procedure allows convenience without compromising accuracy. In addition, it offers the option to assess the brain-gut response to therapeutic interventions including biofeedback and neuromodulation.”
Study in journal Scientific Reports: Artifact Rejection Methodology Enables Continuous, Noninvasive Measurement of Gastric Myoelectric Activity in Ambulatory Subjects…