Biomedical engineers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, have developed a portable device known as MouthLab that can rapidly read a patient's vital signs.
The research team says the device picks up vital signs from the patient's lips and fingertips and could replace the cumbersome and restrictive equipment currently used in hospitals.
A paper in the†Annals of Biomedical Engineering†explains how well a MouthLab prototype performed against standard hospital monitors in 52 volunteers in a trial.
The trial examined the device's capacity to measure heart rate,†blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate and blood oxygen. It also examined the device's capacity to take a basic electrocardiogram (ECG).
The results find that the device compared well with vital signs measured by the hospital equipment.
Gene Fridman, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, says they envisage the device can be used by people without special training at home or in the field.
The device may be able to identify early signs of†heart attack and users will be able to avoid unnecessary ambulance trips and emergency room visits.
The developers also plan to develop the device to detect blood, saliva and breath markers of potentially serious medical conditions.
"We envision the detection of a wide range of disorders, from blood glucose levels for diabetics, to kidney failure, to oral, lung and breast cancers," explains Fridman.