Robots small enough to travel through blood vessels?

By:  |  Category: Blog, Technology Wednesday, September 4th, 2019  |  No Comments
robotic thread

Think small, now think smaller! Imagine robots small enough to travel through blood vessels.

It looks like brain surgery just got a whole lot easier.

Like something out of a sci-fi movie, picture tools resembling a needle and thread slithering around through the blood vessels of your brain.

However, if you have a blockage or lesion from an aneurysm or stroke, this thread could be a miracle.  

Stroke is the number 5 leading cause of death in the US, and the leading cause of disability. If treated within the ‘golden hour’ or within 90 minutes, the survival rate can be drastically increased.

Robotic Thread

Recently developed by MIT, robotic “thread” now has the ability to make minimally invasive brain surgery even less invasive and increases the ability to perform operation within the ‘golden hour.’ It’s amazing how tiny these huge tech advancements are becoming!

Here’s how it works.

The current procedure to disperse medicine or remove a clot from the brain is called an endovascular procedure: a wire inserted through a patient’s main artery (usually their leg or groin) and manually maneuvered into the artery of the brain guided by a fluoroscope (x-ray images). The polymer coating on the wire can cause friction and damage vessels. Ouch! A catheter is then threaded up the wire to deliver drugs or retrieve clots.

This is a taxing manual procedure for the surgeon, who endures repeated radiation from the fluoroscopy. There are also not enough of these specialized surgeons for the number of patients seeking treatment.

MIT’s Associate Professor Xuanhe Zhao and his team have completely changed the game.  

Professor Zhao has developed a magnetically maneuverable thread that will combine robotics and the current endovascular surgery. The thread’s core is called ‘nitinol’ which is magnetic, malleable in any direction and coated in a bonded hydrogel for a friction free material able to survive in the human body. 

The core of this thread could also be replaced with fiber optic filament to eliminate blockages in the brain.

Safer and easier for surgeons, less invasive and dangerous for patients. It’s a win-win. And it’s really cool.

Check out the video below for a first-hand view of Zhao’s robotic thread that could forever change how endovascular surgery is performed.


Samantha Keller

Director of Marketing and PR at EnhancedTECH
Samantha Keller (AKA Sam) is a published author, tech-blogger, event-planner and mother of three fabulous humans. Samantha has worked in the IT field for the last fifteen years, intertwining a freelance writing career along with technology sales, events and marketing. She began working for EnhancedTECH ten years ago after earning her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and attending Fuller Seminary. She is a lover of kickboxing, extra-strong coffee, and Wolfpack football.Her regular blog columns feature upcoming tech trends, cybersecurity tips, and practical solutions geared towards enhancing your business through technology.
Samantha Keller

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