Autonomous sensor could aid in early detection of urinary tract infection

April 13, 2017 by Curt Slyder

Urinary tract infections could one day be diagnosed faster than ever before with an autonomous sensor technology being developed at Purdue University.

"Current testing relies on time-consuming and costly urine culture tests performed at medical facilities and on at-home testing using store-purchased dipsticks that generally have high false alarm rates," said Babak Ziaie, professor of electrical and computer engineering in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "Additionally, collecting for these methods can be challenging for infants and geriatric patients who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases. There's also a privacy and dignity issue."

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body. For women, the lifetime risk of having a is greater than 50 percent. While most urinary tract infections are not serious, some instances can lead to serious complications such as kidney infections.

"Once you detect a urinary tract infection in its early stage, it's very easy to cure," said team member Byunghoo Jung, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "You just need an antibiotic. Early detection is the key."

Purdue researchers have developed a bandage-sized, disposable urinary tract sensor module with a urine-powered battery that can be embedded in a diaper. When it is exposed to urine, the battery provides power to the sensor circuitry. The sensor checks for nitrites, chemical compounds commonly associated with urinary tract infections, and wirelessly sends the result to a that keeps the data log and sends the results to the patient, caregiver, and/or health-care network if required.

Several patents exist on similar technologies. However, none of them are autonomous systems.

"Ours is the only one that works fully autonomously," Ziaie said. "Conventional methods require a certain level of patient or caregiver intervention."

Researchers have created a prototype that has been tested with synthetic urine samples. Testing has shown the prototype to be more accurate than commercial dipsticks.

The autonomous feature of the technology could prove useful to patients who might not be aware of the symptoms of urinary tract infections or otherwise be unaware of the need to check for them. In such cases, urinary tract infections are difficult to detect in their early stages.

Another advantage of the autonomous system is the ability to check for urinary tract infections on a regular basis. This improves accuracy due to the amount of data regularly collected. It can also track changes in the status of urinary tract infections over time.

Work is now shifting to sizing, packaging, diaper embedding methods, smartphone app details and other efforts to prepare the technology for commercialization. A pilot study also is planned.

Explore further: In ERs, UTIs and STIs in women misdiagnosed, even mixed up nearly half the time

Related Stories

In ERs, UTIs and STIs in women misdiagnosed, even mixed up nearly half the time

June 24, 2015
Urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections in women are misdiagnosed by emergency departments nearly half the time, according to a paper in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, a publication of the American Society ...

Study examines new treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections

April 15, 2011
Urinary tract infections are common in women, costing an estimated $2.5 billion per year to treat in 2000 in the United States alone. These infections frequently recur, affecting 2 to 3 percent of all women. A depletion ...

Superbugs' sticky fingers stopped in fight against antibiotic resistance

August 3, 2016
Disarming the superbugs resistant to antibiotics is the Holy Grail in the global fight against a pandemic predicted to kill more people than all cancers combined in the next few decades.

Study debunks common misconception that urine is sterile

March 30, 2015
Bacteria have been discovered in the bladders of healthy women, discrediting the common belief that normal urine is sterile. This finding and its implications were addressed in an editorial published by researchers from Loyola ...

3D images reveal the body's guardian against urinary infection

January 27, 2016
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have obtained the first 3D structure of uromodulin, the building block of the unique safety net that constantly protects our urinary tract against bacterial infections. Uromodulin also ...

Recommended for you

Groundbreaking investigative effort identifies gonorrhea vaccine candidates

September 19, 2017
Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a pair of proteins that show promise as the basis for a gonorrhea vaccine.

Snail fever progression linked to nitric oxide production

September 14, 2017
Bilharzia, caused by a parasitic worm found in freshwater called Schistosoma, infects around 200 million people globally and its advance can lead to death, especially in children in developing countries.

Systems analysis points to links between Toxoplasma infection and common brain diseases

September 13, 2017
More than 2 billion people - nearly one out of every three humans on earth, including about 60 million people in the United States - have a lifelong infection with the brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Study clears important hurdle toward developing an HIV vaccine

September 13, 2017
An international team of researchers has demonstrated a way of overcoming one of the major stumbling blocks that has prevented the development of a vaccine against HIV: the ability to generate immune cells that stay in circulation ...

As 'flesh-eating' Leishmania come closer, a vaccine against them does, too

September 13, 2017
Parasites that ulcerate the skin, can disfigure the face, and may fatally mutilate its victim's internal organs are creeping closer to the southern edges of the United States.

Promising clinical trial results could give doctors a new tool against drug-resistant strains of malaria parasite

September 13, 2017
Tulane University researchers have developed a new drug that is effective against non-severe cases of malaria, according to results from an FDA-supervised clinical trial published in the latest issue of The Lancet Infectious ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.