New Breath Sensor to Analyse Nasal Infections

Published: 04th December 2014 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th December 2014 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), in collaboration with an ENT specialist from MS Ramaiah Medical College, have devised a way to better examine and treat nasal infections.

Usually, the ENT physician measures nasal blockage by direct observation. The other conventional techniques available are both expensive and difficult to perform. And some are not viable if only one nostril is affected.

Now, Dr Roopa Manjunatha and Prof K Rajanna from IISc’s Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics, Prof Roy Mahapatra from the Department of Aerospace Engineering, and ENT surgeon Dr Surya Prakash have devised a novel sensor to examine blocked noses. The sensor employs Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF), a lightweight, flexible polymer that produces slight voltage when stretched or pulled. The polymer is bio-compatible, making it a suitable diagnostic tool.

A PVDF sensory element is suspended from each side of a headset, which is linked to a computer. The elements are positioned under each nostril and the patient will be asked to breathe normally for 2 minutes. The sensor relays the pattern of airflow to the computer for storage and analysis. If the passage is clear, the flow rate will be constant; in the presence of irregularities like a deviated septum or nasal polyps, the pattern will be turbulent.

According to the scientists, the process takes around five minutes and will be able to assess the severity of the obstruction, by comparing the data with the airflow in healthy individuals. It is also an economical and portable design.

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