Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the No. 1 infection among nursing home residents, and the earlier they can be detected, the better the outcomes. But professional urine culture tests aren’t cheap and can take up to three days to deliver results. Over-the-counter test kits have high false-positive rates. And when was the last time you tried to obtain a urine sample from someone who has dementia?
Purdue University has developed a hands-free way to detect a UTI using a tiny sensor that monitors for nitrites—a telltale sign of UTIs—and sends a wireless signal to a smartphone app. The sensor can be implanted in adult incontinence panties and is the only patented product to date that operates completely without caregiver or resident intervention, its developers say. Since data can be gathered at regular intervals, providers can track change of condition status easily and more effectively.
“Once you detect a urinary tract infection in its early stage, it’s very easy to cure,” said team member Byunghoo Jung, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in a release about the project. “You just need an antibiotic. Early detection is the key.”