Question Your World: Can Medical Tattoos Help Monitor Our Health? | Community Idea Stations

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Question Your World: Can Medical Tattoos Help Monitor Our Health?

Let’s say you’re driving down the road and your little gas light pops up on your car's dashboard. Clearly that’s your car telling you that you need to get more gas, right? Now, If only there was a way for our bodies to let us know when something is low or in need of attention. In order to answer that question some medical scientists asked a very fascinating question: Can medical tattoos help monitor our health? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.

A team of researchers at MIT have been working on using the ancient art of tattoos to help monitor our day to day health. Therapeutic and medical tattoos have been in the works for quite some time now, but this new technology is truly groundbreaking. This team of medical researchers recently announced that they have been working on a special tattoo ink that lights up with different colors to let us see the various changes happening within our bodies.

Instead of using traditional ink these researchers used a special liquid with biosensors to turn the human skin into a sort of dashboard to help visualize the ever changing landscape of some of our vitals. This ink works by measuring changes in our interstitial fluid, the stuff that moves around between our cells and makes up about 16% of our body’s weight. The basic idea here is that different types of ink would measure different changes in the body.

If the body is experiencing rising salt levels the tattoo would shine a vibrant green by detecting the changes in sodium. When the ink changes from pink to purple it’s indicating a change in pH levels. Finally, glucose level changes are displayed when the ink goes from blue to brown. That last one would be especially great for diabetes patients who currently have to rely on daily blood tests to monitor levels. This could not only revolutionize the lives of the patients, but could also allow for a quick way of getting vital health information before having to even set foot in the doctor’s office.

These medical tattoos are still under testing for now. They will be tested on a few different animal skins before going into humans. What we do know is that technology like this could greatly impact the lives of both patients and the folks working in the medical field. An early alert system without having to use daily needles could also help make the monitoring process much easier for those that regularly need to keep an eye on their levels. So, for now we're still in testing phases, but if this becomes a common market place reality then this could finally take that sweet tribal on your back to the next level, bro!