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Thin probe measures pH of heart.

Doctors may soon have a new tool to help them monitor cardiac patients in intensive care. A small pH sensor, developed by a team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, can be placed on the end of a catheter and threaded through a vein to the heart. There, the probe continuously measures the acidity or alkalinity of heart tissues and blood.

Measuring pH can tell doctors a lot about a patient's condition, says cardiologist Wayne E. Cascio. For example, if not enough oxygen is reaching the heart muscle, lactic acid builds up and lowers the pH. Current probes designed for this purpose "tend to be large and uncomfortable," says Cascio. He and his colleagues describe the sensor in the Dec. 1, 1998 ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY.

The researchers made the sensor by electroplating iridium oxide onto a platinum wire just 1 millimeter in diameter. Sayed A.M. Marzouk, a chemist from Ain Shams University in Cairo and a study coauthor, developed a way to successfully deposit iridium oxide in a pH-sensitive state, a feat that had eluded previous attempts.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 2, 1999
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