Cutaneous Patches to Monitor Myoelectric Activity of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Postoperative Pediatric Patients

Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2019 Nov;22(6):518-526. doi: 10.5223/pghn.2019.22.6.518. Epub 2019 Nov 7.


Purpose: Limited means exist to assess gastrointestinal activity in pediatric patients postoperatively. Recently, myoelectric gastrointestinal activity recorded by cutaneous patches has been shown in adult patients to be predictive of clinical return of gastrointestinal function postoperatively. The aim of this case series is to demonstrate the feasibility of this system in pediatric patients and to correlate myoelectric signals with return of bowel function clinically.

Methods: Pediatric patients undergoing abdominal surgery were recruited to have wireless patches placed on the abdomen within two hours postoperatively. Myoelectric data were transmitted wirelessly to a mobile device with a user-interface and forwarded to a cloud server where processing algorithms identified episodes of motor activity, quantified their parameters and nominally assigned them to specific gastrointestinal organs based on their frequencies.

Results: Three patients (ages 5 months, 4 year, 16 year) were recruited for this study. Multiple patches were placed on the older subjects, while the youngest had a single patch due to space limitations. Rhythmic signals of the stomach, small intestine, and colon could be identified in all three subjects. Patients showed gradual increase in myoelectric intestinal and colonic activity leading up to the first recorded bowel movement.

Conclusion: Measuring myoelectric intestinal activity continuously using a wireless patch system is feasible in a wide age range of pediatric patients. The increase in activity over time correlated well with the patients' return of bowel function. More studies are planned to determine if this technology can predict return of bowel function or differentiate between physiologic ileus and pathologic conditions.

Keywords: Electrophysiologic phenomena; Ileus; Intestinal diseases; Migrating myoelectric complex.