Posted in Center News: Monday, April 16, 2018
by Samuel Dunn
Center participants Armen Gharibans (postdoc) and Todd Coleman (faculty), in collaboration with researchers and physicians Benjamin L. Smarr, David C. Kunkel, Lance J. Kriegsfeld, and Hayat M. Mousa, have developed a stomach activity monitor that patients can wear throughout the day without the need of immobile diagnostic equipment housed in specialized medical centers.
According to the article published in Nature’s open-access journal Scientific Reports, there is an increasing number of functional and motility gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, and the current diagnostic technologies are insufficient for meeting the needs of individuals with such disorders. The most reliable and accurate ways of diagnosing GI disorders requires patients to visit clinics where invasive procedures – such as inserting catheters into a patient’s nose – are performed. There are noninvasive electrogastrograms (EGG) currently available, but these are not often used due to technical issues and inconsistent results. However, Gharibans and Coleman have demonstrated that their newly developed device produces data that is comparable in quality to the more invasive methods employed in medical centers.
The key in this work has been in designing and refining new algorithms that are capable of recognizing and boosting the electrical signals from the stomach. Refining these algorithms was difficult work due to the many activities and signals performed, created, and observed in the abdomen, such as muscle activity, heart beats, and gastric activity. The algorithms that have been developed are capable of dividing out these different signals so that they do not overlap, enabling clinicians to examine each of signal separately as they go about diagnosis. This work is built on the signal processing research done by Todd Coleman and his research group.
The researchers anticipate a transformation in patient care, stating in their article that it should be possible for this device to generate “substantial gains in detection of events, enabling faster and more accurate diagnoses and interventions.”
Todd Coleman went on to explain in a press release by UC San Diego, “This work opens the door accurately monitoring the dynamic activity of the GI system. Until now, it was quite challenging to accurately measure the electrical patterns of stomach activity in a continuous manner, outside of a clinical setting. From now on, we will be able to observe patterns and analyze them in both healthy and unwell people as they go about their daily lives.”
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