Thread – A Med Without Bloodshed!

What common among the low-income countries, middle-income countries, and high-income countries? Something which is inevitable but should be prevented at any cost. It is death due to strokes. It is the 5th, 2nd and 2nd reason for death in the lower-income, middle-income and high-income countries. With the treatment of the stroke within the first 90 minutes, the survival rate of the patient can increase significantly. Brain damage can be prevented if treated properly.

Fortunately, we live in an era where spectacular medical breakthroughs are taking place. We have tech that matters. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a robotic thread that could remove blood clots in the brain and save patients.

What is the existing solution?

The doctors perform a minimally invasive endovascular procedure in which the physician sends a catheter (a soft hollow tube) to the blocked blood vessel which has the clot. The first step involves inserting the wire through the large artery, which is in the patient’s leg or groin. The fluoroscopic images help the surgeon for manually weaving the wire into the brain’s blocked blood vessel. The catheter is threaded with the wire to deliver the drugs.

The surgery is complicated, and the surgeon needs to be well trained for performing it. There are not enough surgeons to carry out this procedure. Along with this, doctors are exposed to radiation. It is not suitable for surgeons. The wires used during the process contain “a core of metallic alloys, coated in polymer.” This material causes friction when it is sent through vessels and can damage the blood vessel if it gets stuck. To tackle these issues, a brand new solution is presented by the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The brand new solution

A magnetically steerable super flexible robotic thread is created which is tiny enough to glide through the blood vessels of the brain. The thread contains nickel-titanium alloy or “nitinol” core. The alloy is bendy and flexible. The wire can retain its original shape even when it is bent because of the presence of this alloy.

To eliminate the friction, the researchers chemically coated and bonded the thread’s magnetic covering with hydrogel. The hydrogel makes the thread smoother. No matter how tight the passage is, the thread can slip through it swiftly without getting stuck. Due to this, the potential danger of damaging the blood vessel when the thread is sent is being removed.

The reason to make it magnetically steerable is the elimination of the surgeon to push the wire through the blood vessels. Due to this, there is no need for a doctor to be present in the vicinity of the patient. The doctor can be in the other room or the other city. Exposure to the fluoroscopic radiations is prevented in this way.    

We look forward to many more medical research and breakthroughs in the future — our best wishes to the researchers from MIT and around the globe.

Also Read: EndoMimyk: Future of Medical Simulator


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