Novel needle could cut medical complications

Apr 02, 2009

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer medical complications from hypodermic needles that penetrate too far under their skin. A new device developed by MIT engineers and colleagues aims to prevent this from happening by keeping needles on target.

The device, which is purely mechanical, is based on concepts borrowed from the oil industry. It involves a hollow S-shaped containing a filament that acts as a guide wire. When a physician pushes the device against a tissue, she is actually applying force only to the filament, not the needle itself, thanks to a special clutch.

When the filament, which moves through the tip of the needle, encounters resistance from a firm tissue, it begins to buckle within the S-shaped tube. Due to the combined buckling and interactions with the walls of the tube, the filament locks into place "and the needle and wire advance as a single unit," said Jeffrey Karp, an affiliate faculty member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) and co-corresponding author of a recent paper on the work in the .

The needle and wire proceed through the firm tissue. But once they reach the target cavity (for example, a blood vessel) there is no more resistance on the wire, and it quickly advances forward while the needle remains stationary. Because the needle is no longer moving, it cannot proceed past the cavity into the wrong tissue.

Karp believes that the device could reach clinics within three to five years pending further pre-clinical and clinical testing.

First author Erik K. Bassett, now at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), developed the device for his MIT master's thesis. He did so under Alexander Slocum, the Neil and Jane Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with guidance from Karp and Omid Farokhzad of HST, Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (Karp is also affiliated with the latter two). Additional authors are also from HMS and MGH.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (news : web)

Explore further: Unprecedented germ diversity found in remote Amazonian tribe

Related Stories

Mass. Senate debates needle law

May 02, 2006

Massachusetts state senators are debating a bill that would legalize over-the-counter sales of hypodermic needles.

Scientists create gecko-inspired bandage

Feb 18, 2008

MIT researchers and colleagues have created a waterproof adhesive bandage inspired by gecko lizards that may soon join sutures and staples as a basic operating room tool for patching up surgical wounds or ...

11-gauge needle better than 14-gauge in breast biopsy

Feb 02, 2009

Stereotactic vacuum-assisted breast needle biopsy, a common minimally invasive biopsy method used in the US, is more effective with an 11-gauge needle than the 14-gauge needle decreasing a physician's chances of false-negative ...

MIT works toward novel therapeutic device

Oct 22, 2007

MIT and University of Rochester researchers report important advances toward a therapeutic device that has the potential to capture cells as they flow through the blood stream and treat them. Among other applications, ...

Recommended for you

Bacteria play only a minor role stomach ulcers in cattle

21 hours ago

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna investigated whether stomach ulcers in cattle are related to the presence of certain bacteria. For their study, they analysed bacteria present in ...

New research reveals how our skeleton is a lot like our brain

Apr 17, 2015

Researchers from Monash University and St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne have used mathematical modelling combined with advanced imaging technology to calculate, for the first time, the number and connectivity ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.