Robotics engineers pay attention to matters of the heart

June 19, 2022 11:19 PM IST

Washington [US]Jun 19 (ANI): A team of researchers suggested that new devices with magnets to guide guidewires remotely through small, tortuous blood vessels could be used to treat cardiovascular disease.
A multidisciplinary team of robotics and electronic systems engineers in collaboration with cardiologists and materials scientists has developed a medical robotic device that uses an external magnetic field to accurately and remotely guide guidewires through small and tortuous blood vessels.
The device, after further testing and commercialization, could minimize doctors’ exposure to X-rays while searching for and treating narrowed or blocked blood vessels.
“Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide and it is very important to be able to diagnose and treat these diseases in the most minimally invasive way,” explains DGIST robotics engineer Hongsoo Choi.
Currently, c (PCI) involves inserting a guidewire through the large femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery in the wrist and skillfully manipulating it until it reaches the largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta. A contrast agent is then injected into the aorta, where it spreads into the coronary arteries that supply the heart. X-rays are then taken to look for any blockages in these arteries. This procedure requires an enormous amount of skill and can still lead to vessel perforation. It also involves unnecessary exposure of the doctor to X-rays as the procedure is performed at the patient’s bedside.

In recent years, researchers have explored the use of magnetic robotic systems to improve the remote control of these types of procedures. But the developed systems are often bulky and do not respond quickly enough.
Choi and his team have now developed a system that remotely controls a magnetically steerable microrobotic guidewire by applying a steerable external magnetic field. The field is generated by an ‘electromagnetic actuation system’ consisting of eight electromagnets arranged in a semicircular configuration under an operating bed. The patient is intended to be placed on the bed, with the guidewire inserted into an artery and guided remotely by altering the magnetic field. The guidewire is made of a biocompatible silicone tube that can move through blood vessels with very little surface friction. The tip of the microrobot tube encases a neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnet and hard-magnetic composites for magnetic control.
The researchers first tested the system with 2D and 3D printed blood vessel models. They then tested it in anesthetized pigs, managing to control the guidewires remotely through small and tortuous arteries in the pelvis, kidneys and heart.
“Our proposed electromagnetically controllable microrobot intervention system (ECMIS) could reduce physicians’ radiation exposure by allowing them to perform the procedure remotely in an X-ray shielded control booth using low-strength magnetic fields,” says choi. “It also doesn’t require the high level of education required to perform conventional PCIs.”
More testing and improvements are needed, but the researchers already plan to further customize their device so that it can target blood vessels in the nervous system and lungs as well. (ANI)

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