29 February 2020

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30 Aug  2019 541

Robot able to save from a stroke

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a magnetically-controlled filiform robot that can actively glide through narrow, winding brain vessels.

Photo by mit.edu

In the future, this robotic thread will allow doctors to remotely guide the robot through the vessels of the patient’s brain to quickly treat blockages and injuries, such as those resulting from aneurysms and strokes.

Xuanhe Zhao and his team, including lead author Yoonho Kim, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's engineering department, today describe their robotic design in Science Robotics. Other contributors to the article are Herman Alberto Parada, graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and visiting student Shenduo Liu.

Development can revolutionize neurosurgery. Today, the so-called “endovascular procedures” aimed at eliminating blockages in the vessels of the brain require highly professional surgeons, because all the manipulations are carried out manually. In addition, the risk of such operations is extremely high primarily because of the materials from which the tools are created. Radiation received by doctors during fluoroscopy of blood vessels also cannot be written off.

The threadlike robot that MIT is working on is able to improve this kind of operation. It will be controlled using magnets, which will greatly facilitate the work of surgeons, and the nickel-titanium alloy from which the thread is made in conjunction with a hydrogel will avoid friction against the walls of blood vessels and their damage.

Researchers have already tested life-size development in a silicone copy of the main blood vessels in the brain, including clots and aneurysms modeled after computed tomography of the patient’s brain. It is also stated that the robot can be improved, that is, the drug delivery function can be added to prevent the appearance of blood clots or eliminate blockages with the laser.

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