Medical robots explore blood vessels

medical robotsBristol – A U-boat, equipped with a camera and sensors rushes through the bloodstream. Tiny should be to penetrate even the most remote branches of the cardiovascular system. For this idea of intelligent medical robots, the bioengineers inspire the world for years. They hope so, the imaging methods in medicine a step further advance.

Now James Friend has researchers in the journal “Journal of Micromechanics and Micro engineering” presented the “Microbot. He should not only help in the diagnosis and during surgery, but also take small interventions independently. The robot is only a quarter of a millimeter large – and can easily be injected into the bloodstream of the patient. Friend and his team describe it a real version of the shrunken submarine in the science fiction classic “The Fantastic Journey”.

However, the robot must be able to afford? First, it serves the diagnosis. He is sent by remote control from outside and through the blood vessels, for example, to the coronary vessels. Here he can examine what was previously possible only with a catheter examination or expensive computer tomography images were: Whether a region of the heart muscle with blood is bad, and if blocked or damaged blood vessels are the cause of the blood supply. Microbot transmits images from inside the vessel to the outside, the doctor will then decide what to do. Could the case of simple blood clots, says Friend, dissolve the robot this themselves. Mechanically or by using dissolving drugs, which are released on the spot?

“We are looking for something that can be placed in human arteries and especially to places where existing technologies can not be used.” After the end of the mission the vehicle return to the entry site by injection and are brought back from the body.

In particular, the drive is preparing the micro-engineers still a headache. For to tinker just a tiny propeller enough, here is not enough. Are sensitive to the inner walls of blood vessels that are too difficult and the flow conditions in the bloodstream of a living being – and dangerous it is when a micro-robot throws in the blood stream turbulence.

The present engine, the Friend and his team works on the principle of piezoelectricity, which is also used in quartz watches. Ceramics and crystals to produce this electricity from mechanical pressure. The turn is a helical flagellum-propeller in motion. Are prototypes for the engine it already? Now the researchers want associated vehicle and the controls for the micro-robot to build that.

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