Compliance of a microstructured, soft sampling device for transcutaneous blood gas monitoring
Premature neonates are too small for repeated blood sampling, but still require precise monitoring of blood gas levels. The standard method therefore involves transcutaneous blood gas monitoring (TBM), i.e. analyzing gas that permeates the skin. The method involves skin heating and requires frequent relocation of a rigid sensor that is adhesively mounted to the skin, which makes the monitoring intermittent and can cause tissue damage. To mitigate this, this paper introduces a TBM concept that replaces the sensor with a small, non-adhesive, flexible, polydimethylsiloxane patch, routing the gases through skin-facing microchannels laid out in various configurations, to an external optical emission spectroscopy system (OES). As the OES depends on a constant flow of gas, we have investigated the effects external loads, both vertical and with a transverse component, have on the aerodynamic resistance of the patches. The experiments show that patches with 200 μm wide channels can withstand uniformly distributed forces up to 25 N with a change in aerodynamic resistance of about 0.01 mbar per sccm per newton. In subsequent measurements, the proof of concept (POC) TBM system showed a strong and fast blood gas signal that was unaffected by all likely loads in the intended application. Moreover, the rise time of the signal is shown to be inversely proportional to the aerodynamic resistance, and the signal strength to be proportional to the skin area exposed to the microchannels. With these results, the POC TBM system is a viable first step towards truly continuous blood gas monitoring of prematurely born children.