Wearable device monitors electrical activity in the stomach

Researchers have developed a new wearable device for people that have issues with their stomach. The wearable is able to measure electrical activity in the stomach and could help folks with digestive issues determine if treatments or diets are working. The wearable device still requires clinical validation and uses a technology called electrogastrography or EGG.

This tech was around in the past but had fallen out of use after a controversy surrounding its diagnostic relevance swirled. EGG tech is designed to pick up the electrical signals that travel through stomach muscles to control gastric contractions. The test method is meant to figure out if what are called slow waves originating in pacemaker cells of the stomach oscillate at 3 cycles per minute. Signals detected by the sticky electrodes on the skin have been a challenge in the past with artifacts caused by stomach movement.

Researchers Todd Coleman and Armen Gharibans from the University of California, San Diego have attempted to address some of the shortcomings earlier EGG devices faced. They did this by upping the number of channel recordings from a single waveform in conventional EGGs to 25 data-collecting channels. The researchers also came up with a smaller version with 8-channels for mobile recordings.

The electrode placement was optimized in a grid below the sternum and over the bellybuttons. The biggest thing the duo did was to develop an algorithm that removes electrical noise that comes from external motion. That same algorithm also sorts and cleans signals from each electrode and relays the ones that are most relevant.

In testing the team trialed the device with a pediatric gastroenterologist at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. The kids in the trial were 7-17 years old and each had chronic stomach problems. The readings from the wearable device were compared to readings taken with a procedure called manometry that passes a catheter into the nose or mouth into the stomach.

The team says the readings were significantly correlated form their device with the manometry in every test case. The researchers still have lots of work to do to get the device into mainstream medicine and one of those fights is to prove that EGG data is clinically relevant. The team plans a similar study with adults next.

SOURCE: Spectrum