Measurement of serum phosphate levels using a mobile sensor

Analyst. 2020 Mar 2;145(5):1841-1848. doi: 10.1039/c9an02215e.


The measurement of serum phosphate concentration is crucial for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) and those on maintenance dialysis, as abnormal phosphate levels may be associated with severe health risks. It is important to monitor serum phosphate levels on a regular basis in these patients; however, such measurements are generally limited to every 0.5-3 months, depending on the severity of CKD. This is due to the fact that serum phosphate measurements can only be performed at regular clinic visits, in addition to cost considerations. Here we present a portable and cost-effective point-of-care device capable of measuring serum phosphate levels using a single drop of blood (<60 μl). This is achieved by integrating a paper-based microfluidic platform with a custom-designed smartphone reader. This mobile sensor was tested on patients undergoing dialysis, where whole blood samples were acquired before starting the hemodialysis and during the three-hour treatment. This sampling during the hemodialysis, under patient consent, allowed us to test blood samples with a wide range of phosphate concentrations, and our results showed a strong correlation with the ground truth laboratory tests performed on the same patient samples (Pearson coefficient r = 0.95 and p < 0.001). Our 3D-printed smartphone attachment weighs about 400 g and costs less than 80 USD, whereas the material cost for the disposable test is <3.5 USD (under low volume manufacturing). This low-cost and easy-to-operate system can be used to measure serum phosphate levels at the point-of-care in about 45 min and can potentially be used on a daily basis by patients at home.

MeSH terms

  • Calorimetry / methods*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / pathology*
  • Phosphates / blood*
  • Point-of-Care Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smartphone / statistics & numerical data*


  • Phosphates