Microbot Designed to Shorten, Enhance Cardiovascular Surgery
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on March 18, 2019 |

A team of researchers from South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) Microrobotics Research Center have turned to robotics as a solution for delicate heart surgeries, especially chronic total occlusion (CTO), which is a complete obstruction of a coronary artery. This type of surgery typically takes longer and is met with numerous challenges along the way.

The DGIST team’s research, recently published in Soft Robotics, aims to reduce the length of surgery and yield better success.

“Compared to the existing method, using an attachable guidewire microrobot will shorten the time for heart disease surgery and increase the success rate by enabling the surgeon to find the cause of disease more accurately and faster for a stable surgery,” said Professor Hongsoo Choi. “Our research team will work harder to conduct follow-up research with related companies and develop products that can be used in medical sites.”

From left, Ph.D. student Sungwoong Jeon, Professor Hongsoo Choi and Ph.D. student Kangho Kim have developed an attachable guidewire microrobot to assist with cardiovascular disease surgeries. (Image courtesy of DGIST.)
From left, Ph.D. student Sungwoong Jeon, Professor Hongsoo Choi and Ph.D. student Kangho Kim have developed an attachable guidewire microrobot to assist with cardiovascular disease surgeries. (Image courtesy of DGIST.)

Traditional methods required a surgeon to manually control the guidewire necessary to  open obstructed blood vessels. The surgeon was required to change direction and location—which can be difficult to locate—as well as insert the guidewire into blood vessels or a junction. This resulted in a lengthy process that didn’t always succeed.

The DGIST team’s microrobot precisely targets and reaches the location of cardiovascular disease within complicated blood vessels, such as CTO, through an external magnetic field. After applying a flexible and biocompatible polymer and  neodymium magnet, the team developed a cylindrical microrobot with a diameter of 500㎛ and length of 4mm and attached it to the end of a guidewire.

The microrobot is steered by changes in the direction of the magnetic field. This graphic shows it in three positions: (a) the initial position; (b) after deformation in the z direction; and (c) after. (Image courtesy of DGIST.)
The microrobot is steered by changes in the direction of the magnetic field. This graphic shows it in three positions: (a) the initial position; (b) after deformation in the z direction; and (c) after. (Image courtesy of DGIST.)

The attachable guidewire microrobot allows for rectilinear motions through precise control by magnetic field and a Master-Slave system, ensuring it reaches a desired location faster. Additionally, this new method may also reduce exposure to X-ray radiation to both the patient and surgeon, as well as reduce the chances of blood vessel damage in the patient.

Interested in more medical innovations? Check out New Device Enables the Heart to Power Life-Saving Devices and New Tool Monitors Blood Flow Remotely, Battery-Free.


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