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Needle Device: Potential Solution For Complicated Percutaneous Access

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Multidisciplinary research out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has produced a mechanical clutch-based needle-insertion device that automatically stops once the needle tip enters a cavity or lower-density tissue.

Borrowing concepts from a drill model from the oil industry, Omid Farokhzad and Jeffrey Karp from BWH, and Alex Slocum and Erik Bassett from MIT, developed an s-shaped needle that could offer a solution to the hundreds of thousands of complications due to improperly inserted and positioned needles, and injuries from overshooting. These findings appear in the March issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Current needle systems depend on the clinician to physically sense when the needle has passed through the tissue into the desired area,” explained Jeffrey Karp, PhD, director for the Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem Cell based Therapeutics at BWH. “This sensory skill requires substantial experience and even with the most practiced clinicians there is still a sizable complication rate.”

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The mechanical clutch-based needle consists of a flexible filament inside a rigid s-shaped tube, which together act like a clutch. Due to the shape of the tube, the filament coils and “locks” inside the tube when the tip of the needle encounters resistance- dense tissue. Since the filament is locked in the tube, it pushes the tube forward through the tissue until resistance subsides- when it reaches a cavity or tissue or lower density. The decreased resistance causes the filament to slack and move forward through the tube into the tissue, while the needle remains in place.

Using a laparoscopic video camera, Dr. Peter Masiakos and Dr. Howard Pryor from Massachusetts General Hospital, demonstrated the needle’s effectiveness in a deceased pig by inserting the needle into the abdomen and observing a 100 percent success rate for stopping when reaching the peritoneal cavity.

The device could prove useful in placing a needle into a specific site to draw blood, remove fluid, or to administer medicine to a specific site. In addition, there is potential for application when administering epidural anesthesia, placing chest tubes, arterial line catheters, catheters and central venous lines, accessing fistulas for dialysis patients, and potential in accessing the brain.

“By eliminating the reliance on tactile feedback, this device could help reduce the number of injuries due to overshooting in the numerous procedures that require accessing a specific tissue or tissue compartment,” said Dr. Karp. “It also provides the ability to decrease the amount of steps necessary to insert guide wires or catheters, which, in the case of an emergency, is crucial.” added Dr. Farokhzad.