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Pittsburgh Researchers Develop Implantable RFID for Orthopedic Device

A University of Pittsburgh team has completed the testing and development of the Ortho-Tag, a patented RFID system to read a passive tag via RF transmissions passing through a patient's body.
By Claire Swedberg
The research group is now focusing on identifying the proper silicon chip for the tag. The system requires an RFID chip that can sustain gamma radiation, since the tag is likely to be exposed to sterilization gamma radiation prior to implantation. "We're still looking for the best chip with the most memory," Mickle states, in order to sustain the radiation and store sensor data. Currently, he says, the researchers are testing chips from Tego.

"Our goal is commercialization," Mickle says. "The biggest issue now is our search procedure for a CEO of the company." Once hired, that individual will meet with implant providers to generate a partnership with a company that could then market the solution.

Mickle declines to speculate as to when the product would be made commercially available, since several steps must first be completed, including identifying a partnering implant device manufacturer—and that company would then need to earn FDA approval to use the tag. Until then, Ortho-Tag has an alternative device in the works: a passive RFID tag—either an HF 13.56 MHz tag compliant with the ISO 18000-3 standard, or a UHF tag compliant with the EPC Gen 2 standard—embedded in a credit-card sized piece of plastic that could store information about the implant, as well as its manufacturer, when it was built and its serial number. The patient could keep the card in a wallet, Mickle says, noting that the system should be available within a year.

In the meantime, Mickle says, as the researchers test chips, they are examining those with the most memory available—in the range of 8 to 64 kilobits.

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