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Self-Folding Surgical Tools Fit Through Catheter for Minimally Invasive Procedures

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 13 Apr 2023
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Image: A new method can transport large devices through a narrow catheter (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)
Image: A new method can transport large devices through a narrow catheter (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)

Minimally invasive surgeries offer numerous advantages to patients, such as reduced pain, quicker recovery, and fewer infections, compared to traditional open surgeries. These procedures typically involve inserting small surgical instruments through a narrow catheter sheath, navigating complex paths, and conducting surgeries in confined in vivo environments. Consequently, the instruments for minimally invasive surgery used must be small. Now, researchers have devised a technique to transport large devices through a narrow catheter, expanding the possibilities for designing minimally invasive surgical tools.

Researchers from ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) have pioneered a novel approach to minimally invasive surgical instruments that allows larger objects to be introduced into the body via a narrow catheter. This can be done by disassembling the devices into individual components and sliding them through the catheter in a row, similar to a string of pearls. Upon reaching the catheter's end, the parts self-assemble into a predetermined shape, facilitated by integrated magnets. The team showcased the versatility of this innovative method by using 3D printing to construct a simple endoscopic grasper and assembling a three-part endoscope head.

The researchers' prototypes combined soft, flexible segments with rigid ones containing tiny magnets. This design enables an endoscope head to execute movements with tight radii and angles, which are currently unattainable with existing endoscopes. The enhanced maneuverability expands the design possibilities for minimally invasive surgical devices used on organs such as the intestine or stomach.

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