Heart care is in the midst of a transformation. Many problems that once required sawing through the breastbone and opening up the chest for open heart surgery now can be treated with a nip, twist, or patch through a tube. These minimal procedures used to be done just to unclog arteries and correct less common heart rhythm problems. Now some patients are getting such repairs for valves, irregular heartbeats, holes in the heart and other defects—without major surgery.
An RTI International-developed prototype catheter that can generate live, streaming 3D ultrasound images from inside the heart has recently received a Cardiovascular Innovation Award at the 2013 Cardiovascular Research Technologies Annual Symposium. Called a live volumetric imaging intracardiac catheter, the technology has the potential to improve catheter-based heart procedures.
The future is unclear for a promising heart device aimed at preventing strokes in people at high risk of them because of an irregular heartbeat. Early results from a key study of Boston Scientific Corp.'s Watchman device suggested it is safer than previous testing found, but may not be better than a drug that is used now for preventing strokes, heart-related deaths and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation over the long term.
Working with patients with electrodes implanted in their brains, researchers in California and Texas have shown for the first time that areas of the brain work together at the same time to recall memories. The unique approach promises new insights into how we remember details of time and place.
Drawing upon nature for inspiration, a team of researchers has created a new artificial lens that is nearly identical to the natural lens of the human eye. Made up of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers, the lens may one day provide more natural performance in implantable lenses. It also may lead to superior ground and aerial surveillance technology.
In recent years, researchers working to enhance transdermal drug delivery have focused on low-frequency ultrasound, because the high-frequency waves don’t have enough energy. However, these systems usually produce abrasions in the treated area. In a new study, engineers have combined high and low frequencies to enhance the permeability of skin to drugs, making transdermal drug delivery more efficient.
Needle injections are among the least popular staples of medical care. A new laser-based system, however, that blasts microscopic jets of drugs into the skin could soon make getting a shot as painless as being hit with a puff of air. The system uses an erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser to propel a tiny, precise stream of medicine with just the right amount of force.
To cut down on postoperative problems, particularly those involving abdomenal surgery, Johns Hopkins undergraduates have invented a disposable suturing tool to guide the placement of stitches and guard against the accidental puncture of internal organs. Called FastStitch, it’s described a cross between a pliers and a hole-puncher.
A international research team has mimicked and recreated the intricate properties of human fingertips using semiconductor devices. The devices, shown to be capable of responding with high precision to the stresses and strains associated with touch and finger movement, may lead to the development of advanced surgical gloves.
Microscopically small submarines that can swim through our blood to clear out clogged arteries or destroy malignant tumors. Various micro- and nanomachines have already been developed, but a new type of machine introduced by American researchers finally has enough propulsive power to penetrate tissue and overcome cellular barriers.
Government health experts said Thursday there are few reasons to continue using metal-on-metal hip implants, amid growing evidence that the devices can break down early and expose patients to dangerous metallic particles. The devices were originally marketed as a longer-lasting alternative to older ceramic and plastic models. But recent data from the U.K. and other foreign countries suggests they are more likely to deteriorate.
The best doctors strive to relieve their patients' burdens. A physician in Houston asked Rice University students to help him do so in the most literal way. A team of bioengineering seniors built a prototype device to literally lift the weight from obese patients who, while undergoing surgical procedures, might otherwise have trouble breathing.
Frustrated by the flimsy, disposable construction of typical trauma shears, Scott Forman, an emergency room physician, teamed up with Sandia National Laboratories engineer Mark Reece to design a better tool. The result is a shear that handle tough materials like Kevlar without having to be thrown away afterward. And it has a few other cool features as well.
Cochlear implants have restored basic hearing to some 220,000 deaf people, but the microphone and electronics can be cumbersome and can prevent them from participating in certain activities like swimming. Engineers have designed a tiny prototype microphone that can be implanted in the middle ear, and its form factor has been tested on cadavers. Tests on live humans are still a few years away.
The mitotic spindle is an apparatus that segregates chromosomes during cell division. But following some nanosurgery conducted by Harvard University, its structure may be more complex than the standard textbook picture suggests. Using a femtosecond laser, researchers have shown the true structure of its protein strands.
Engineers at the University of Sheffield have developed a method of making medical devices called nerve guidance conduits. Based on laser direct writing, which enables the fabrication of complex structures from computer files via the use of CAD/CAM, the polymer-based material will assist nerves damaged by traumatic accidents to repair naturally.
A team of Rice University students has invented a machine designed to improve the process of correcting bone deformities in children. Typically, bone correction devices are manually operated, which children must remember to use and which introduces the possibility of damaging fragile tissues and nerves. The new automated linear lengthener avoids these risks.
More than a million Americans receive an artificial hip or knee prosthesis each year, but tens of thousands of people need early replacements because of loosening joints. To help minimize these operations, a team of chemical engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a thin, layered coating for implants that helps promote bone growth.
Researchers reported at a recent Orthopedic Research Society meeting that orthopedic implants "dip-coated" with modular growth factors can stimulate bone and blood vessel growth in sheep. This new modular approach, the report suggests, might be able to stimulate bone formation without side effects.
Robotics experts at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Washington have completed a set of seven advanced robotic surgery systems for use by major medical research laboratories throughout the United States.
Some of the most important components of a pacemaker are the leads, the series of wires led through key veins into the heart and then connected to electrodes. This critical failure point has been addressed by Cambridge Consultants’ new WiCS system, which uses a leadless electrode powered wirelessly with ultrasonic pulses.
This spring, Nimbic Systems received Food and Drug Administration clearance for the company's Air Barrier System, a medical device that reduces surgical-incision site contamination. It creates a “cocoon” of highly pure air that keeps away infection-causing microorganisms.
Both bone and wood are solid, living elements with an internal structure that is porous. By transforming red oakwood into a charcoal substance that emulates bone, scientists in Europe may have discovered a weight-bearing implant that will help regenerate bone.
Implanted biological materials easily mimic the texture of soft tissues, but usually are broken down by the body too fast. Synthetic materials are typically rejected by the body. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have built a new injectable composite material that combines both biological and synthetic molecules in the hopes of overcoming both problems.
Engineers and physicians at Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medical College have collaborated on the development of a biologically-based spinal implant that relies on two different forms of polymer, collagen and hydrogel.