Resources for Biomedical Engineering Device Design
F20 Project: Plasma Boys
Cost-Effective and Fast Plasma Viscometer for COVID-19 Patients
This is our works-like prototype. It outputs the time in seconds that it takes for a fluid to travel from its first sensor to its second sensor. We made a chart that operators can use to get viscosity from this time output.
Due to thrombotic complications related to COVID-19, there is a need for increased plasma viscosity testing. Existing tests are too slow or expensive, causing accessibility problems. Improving accessibility can make it possible to measure the plasma viscosity of more COVID-19 patients, allowing healthcare providers to identify which patients would benefit from treatments like plasma exchange. By helping identify these patients, we hope to improve resource allocation and increase the survival rate for COVID-19. Existing automated viscometers can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while existing manual viscometers are difficult to clean, easy to break, and slow, with a single lab technician only able to run about ten tests a day. On top of this, send-out tests, which most hospitals use, take too long to process. A COVID-19 patient’s plasma viscosity can change drastically by the time their test results are known. We are creating a plasma viscometer that is less expensive than existing viscometers so that every hospital can afford one, and fast enough to produce results that are clinically relevant. Our viscometer works by measuring the fluid flow rate, which is proportional to viscosity, with light sensors detecting the lighting changes that occur when a fluid passes certain points. Plus, our viscometer has a disposable fluid channel. This channel reduces the need for cleaning since plasma does not touch the reusable parts of our device, and this channel helps minimize the amount of plasma needed for testing since its diameter is small. In the future, we hope to use our viscometer to help patients with conditions other than COVID-19, such as multiple myeloma and Waldenstrom’s. Our viscometer could make it easier for these patients to track their disease progression.