UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a magnetically controlled snake robot that maneuvers through the narrowest arteries and one day helps prevent death due to stroke and aneurysm. A study of scientists published in the journal Science Robotics.
Thanks to ferromagnetic domains and a hydrogel that reduces friction by more than ten times, a filamentous robot smaller than a millimeter in size can, like a snake, move smoothly through complex and limited tunnels, such as vascular structures in the body and brain. In this case, the doctor controls the robot from the next room. The core of the device is made of a nickel-titanium alloy that can bend and then return to its natural shape.
So, experts say, a new development in combination with modern endovascular technologies will allow doctors to quickly treat hard-to-reach areas of the brain. Robots have already passed tests on a silicone copy of the blood vessels of the brain with realistic clots and aneurysms.
“Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. If acute stroke can be treated within the first 90 minutes after the attack, then the survival rates of patients can increase significantly, ”explains Professor Xuanhe Zhao. “If we could develop a device to reverse the blockage of blood vessels in an hour, we could avoid the inevitable damage to the brain.” It gives us hope.”
Today, to get rid of blood clots in the brain, surgeons pass a thin wire through the main artery, through the leg or groin, while the fluoroscope takes pictures, helping to bring the wire to the brain. Then either the catheter delivers the drug, which dilutes the clot, or the device retrieves it.
“One of the problems in surgery was the ability to travel through the blood vessels in the brain. Taking into account their compact, autonomous activation and intuitive manipulations, our ferromagnetic robots open the way to minimally invasive robotic surgery of previously inaccessible lesions, ”concluded Kyujin Cho, professor at Seoul National University and one of the authors of the work.
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