Many medical devices now depend on accurate and stable pressure measurements in order tooperate reliably. What’s more, patient care is expanding beyond the hospital and the GP’s surgery and arriving in patients’ homes, in the form of home health monitoring. As a result, developing with pressure sensors has become an integral part of designing medical applications. Below, we explore 5 different uses of pressure sensors in medical technology.
- Getting the mix right in medical ventilators
A ventilator works by mixing air with pure oxygen to help the respiratory function of a patient. Differential or gauge pressure sensors are normally sited between valves and regulators to ensure the air and oxygen are mixed in the right quantities.
- Monitoring oxygen therapy effectiveness
Oxygen therapy comes in a number of forms, as concentrated oxygen can be an effective initial treatment for asthma, bronchitis and oedemas, as well as heart failure. Oxygen therapy systems use differential pressure sensors at several points in the system to monitor the pressure of the oxygen as it is mixed with atmospheric air. These sites are usually at the outlet of the oxygen tank, inline with the pressure regulator, and next to the flow control valve.
- Delivering hyperbaric therapy
Raising the air pressure in a sealed chamber containing a patient is known as hyperbaric therapy and can be effective for a number of conditions. It’s used to treat decompression sickness experienced by divers, and can also help patients with skin grafts or burn injuries. It can also be effective in treating carbon monoxide poisoning and even some necrotizing infections.
- Providing positive pressure masks to treat slppy apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition that causes the sufferer to stop breathing while asleep. Left untreated it can lead to a number of serious conditions, from chronic fatigue to potential heart failure. The treatment involves using a device called a continuous positive air pressure machine, or CPAP, which delivers air at a positive pressure to a mask worn over the nose and mouth of the patient.
- Automating drug infusion
Drugs delivered in liquid form can be an effective form of treatment, as can other types offluids. e.g. for rehydration. These fluids can be administered either intravenously, subcutaneously or directly into a vein, and are typically delivered using infusion pumps. In order to ensure the correct volume of fluid is administered at the correct rate, the pumps use a number of sensors including gauge and differential pressure sensors, to closely monitor and control the flow of liquid.