Tiny robotic submarine in blood to help operate on stroke victims

January 20th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 20 (ANI): Researchers from Monash University have developed micro-motors that can drive around the body and even into the delicate structures of the brains of stroke victims to carry out potentially life-saving operations.

Lead researcher James Friend explained, motors provide the key to making robots small enough for injection into the bloodstream.

With the right sensor equipment attached to the microbot motor, the surgeon’’s view of, for example, a patient’’s troubled artery can be enhanced and the ability to work remotely also increases the surgeon’’s dexterity.

If you pick up an electronics catalogue, you”ll find all sorts of sensors, LEDs, memory chips, etc that represent the latest in technology and miniaturisation, said Friend.

Take a look however at the motors and there are few changes from the motors available in the 1950s,” he added.

Methods of minimally invasive surgery, such as keyhole surgery and a range of operations that utilise catheters, tubes inserted into body cavities to allow surgical manoeuvrability, are preferred by surgeons and patients because of the damage avoided when contrasted against cut and sew operations.

Serious damage during minimally invasive surgery is however not always avoidable and surgeons are often limited by, for example, the width of a catheter tube which, in serious cases, can fatally puncture narrow arteries.

The microbot motors just 250 micrometres, a quarter of a millimetre wide have so far succeeded in swimming through human blood in the laboratory, but scientists hope it could also power its way up the narrow arteries of the brain.

Opportunities for micro-motors abound in fields as diverse as biomedicine, electronics, aeronautics and the automotive industry, said Friend.

Responses to this need have been just as diverse, with designs developed using electromagnetic, electrostatic, thermal and osmotic driving forces, he added.

The study is published in Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. (ANI)

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