Researchers at UCLA have developed a new device known as AbStat that can listen to the gut sounds and help doctors determine whether a patient is suffering from post-operative ileus (POI).
The device is shaped similar to a cup and is fitted with a microphone that is then attached to the lower abdomen. The sound signals picked up by the microphone is then sent to a computer that calculates the rate of digestive activity and counts intestinal movements.
The researchers revealed that they have tested the device on 40 patients, of which 25 suffered from POI, seven patients who tolerated feeding and eight healthy controls.
"We think what we've invented is a way to monitor a new vital sign, one to go along with heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. This new vital sign, intestinal rate, could prove to be important in diagnosing and treating patients. The role of wearable sensors in healthcare has reached mainstream consciousness and has the capacity to transform how we monitor and deliver care", lead researcher Dr Brennan Spiegel said.