February 16, 2024

Robot could clear stroke-related blockage faster than traditional methods

Editor's Note

A magnetically operated robot developed by the Multi-Scale Robotics Lab in Zurich along with several hospitals in Switzerland could be used to treat people in the critical moments following a stroke to remove blockage and resume blood flow. The findings were published February 14 in the journal Science Robotics. 

With ischemic strokes, an obstruction such as a blood clot or plaque blocks blood vessels in the brain, which kills brain cells and can lead to brain damage or death. Rapid treatment is required to prevent serious damage. Current treatments rely on drugs to break up the blockages or the use of a guided wire that is inserted into a femoral artery. However, these methods are often time-consuming. Not only can the robot reach and eliminate the blockage more quickly than traditional methods, but it also can be inserted closer to the brain. 

The new robotic tool is shaped like a screw and equipped with a soft tip to prevent damage to blood vessels and small enough to fit inside tiny blood vessels. By using an external magnet, clinicians can cause the robot to rotate as it propels forward toward the blockage. It has been tested in silicon models, a human placenta, and a living pig, and the team hopes to test it on human patients in the near future.

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