New device shows promise for kidney disease monitoring


By Siobhan Calafiore

2 Apr 2024

A new device developed in Australia could be used for regular monitoring of patients with kidney disease and for screening high-risk populations.

The portable device, which has embedded image processing techniques, showed good performance, providing reliable results consistent with clinical values, according to comparisons against other existing methods and results.

Flinders University researcher Professor Youhong Tang said accessible and affordable urinalysis to assess kidney function could be a boon in remote areas, at-home testing as well as in low-economic and developing countries.

“Our device has been designed as an open platform so it has the capability to be used not just for urinalysis, but for different types of tests using colorimetric test strips and for test strips from any manufacturer,” said Professor Tang, a mechanical, material and manufacturing engineering researcher.

In a case study published in Methods [link here] 57 human urine samples were collected from Flinders Medical Centre over six months and the readings obtained by the device were compared with clinical values provided by SA Pathology.

Generally, the proposed device showed a strong correlation with the clinical values for albumin and creatinine and was able to provide much better accuracy than visual assessment of the reagent strips, according to the authors.

“We have developed a portable colorimetric paper test strip reader that uses a camera and image processing software to automatically obtain a reading,” said study co-author Dr Damian Tohl.

“Paper-based colorimetric tests are popular because they are inexpensive and quick and easy to perform, however, reading the result requires comparison of the test strip with reference colour blocks and may be affected by variations in ambient light and colour perception between users.

“Our device includes a calibration process so that results are invariant to variations in ambient light to produce quantitative measurements with improved accuracy.”

The Flinders University research team has since filed for an Australian patent.

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