Heat sensitive bandage could combat infection

Fibres in the bandage respond to changes in temperature

Fibres used in the bandage can respond to changes in temperature. Image courtesy: Louise van der Werff/CSIRO

A bandage that warns of infection by changing colour has been developed by Monash University and CSIRO.

Lead inventor and Monash PhD student, Louise van der Werff said the bandage could lead to speedier and more effective treatments for chronic wounds, such as leg ulcers and bedsores.

“The bandage works by changing colour according to temperature,” Ms van der Werff said.

“Changes in temperature can indicate inflammation or suggest problems with blood supply, which can lead to infection. The bandage will help patients and clinicians with early detection, allowing them to treat any complications before they become serious.”

The cost of treating chronic wounds in Australia is estimated to be around $500 million each year. Prolonged, or chronic inflammation can delay and in some cases jeopardise the healing process.

“If problems are not quickly identified and treated, wounds can persist for months or years, resulting in a major reduction in quality of life. Not only that, the average cost of treatment is over $25,000 per wound,” Ms van der Werff said.

So far, the researchers have successfully developed the temperature sensitive textile, with the next step being to turn it into a full fledged bandage that will be commercially produced.

“The fabric we’ve created is sensitive to changes of less than half a degree Celsius. Patients and clinicians will be able to match the colour of the fibres with a calibrated chart that indicates the health of the wound,” Ms van der Werff said.

“Currently clinicians use electronic equipment to determine temperatures across the wound and surrounding tissue. We expect the bandage will deliver significant cost savings.”

Ms van der Werff is one of 16 early-career scientists recently chosen to present their research to the public through Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Australian Government. 

As part of Fresh Science, Ms van der Werff will present her research during the next week at AMP’s Amplify Festival in Sydney, over dinner with Australia’s Chief Scientist in Melbourne, and to school students in Melbourne and Bendigo.