The concentration of certain compounds in urine can provide information about many different conditions, including kidney disease, urinary tract infections, and electrolyte deficiencies.
Though many people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels with blood tests, glucose levels in their urine can also reveal spikes or dips. To analyze urine, however, physicians typically must order a urinalysis from a hospital lab, which takes time or use paper test strips, which aren’t very sensitive.
Neither system can deliver fast, bedside analyses. Some researchers have explored wearable devices to monitor health markerslike electrolyte and sugar content in sweat.
So, researchers wanted to design a similar type of wearable device that could accurately and sensitively measure the concentration of multiple health markers in urine and give real-time feedback to care providers.
The team first fabricated a flexible electrode array about the size of a U.S. quarter. They included five different electrodes on the array that were designed to specifically detect potassium ions, sodium ions, hydrogen peroxide, uric acid, or glucose, which are biomarkers for various conditions.
Then they connected the array to a circuit board that had a Bluetooth module and lithium-ion battery power source. When the array was exposed to urine samples from three volunteers, it performed as well as a commercial urine test system.
Next, the researchers incorporated the array into a diaper and found that, when urine was present, they could get readable signals for the biomarkers. However, they anticipate that in a real-world setting, where dry diapers become slowly saturated with urine, the electrode array would have to take multiple measurements to get stable readings.