Newsmaker: Guiding cardiac diagnoses

Boston Globe featured blood pressure sensor developed with UMass Lowell

May 11, 2011
globe news 

A recent Boston Globe article featured Kurt G. Barringhaus, MD, assistant professor of medicine at UMass Medical School and Xingwei Wang, PhD, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UMass Lowell, who are testing a new device that will allow physicians to measure blood pressure in real time as it travels through a patient’s arteries during angioplasties and stent procedures. 

Last month, the pair received a $25,000 grant from the University of Massachusetts to test the device, which was developed by Dr. Wang in Lowell. If successful, the device could be used to help physicians to better evaluate patients prior to angioplasty, the process of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel using stents. Used in tandem with current stent guidewires, these sensors can help determine the exact location, extent and severity of the obstruction or narrowing of the blood vessel. With this information, cardiologists can determine if medication may provide benefits similar to introduction of a stent.

Current technology for measuring pressure within blood vessels generally uses electrical sensors, and is “rather difficult to maneuver,’’ Barringhaus said. This device is smaller and has better “steerability,’’ so it can be used in narrower blood vessels and can better pinpoint blockages. It would help doctors avoid performing unnecessary procedures and optimize patient outcomes, he said. 

Related link: 

UMass awards technology development grants