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Magnetic Robot That Moves Through Arteries Could Revolutionize Stroke Treatment

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Feb 2024
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Image: Helical mCR with articulated magnetic tip (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)
Image: Helical mCR with articulated magnetic tip (Photo courtesy of ETH Zurich)

Ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted due to a blockage in blood vessels. Now, a cutting-edge technology promises to revolutionize stroke treatment. Scientists have created a magnetically operated robot for the treatment of ischemic stroke that is small enough to navigate the complex network of tiny blood vessels in the human brain. The robot restores blood flow by drilling through the blockage material in the brain, helping improve the motor functions and overall recovery of stroke patients.

This robot developed at ETH Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) is propelled by an external magnet, and features a soft tip to avoid damaging blood vessels. Its soft tip reduces the risk of vascular damage, prioritizing patient safety. The robot's primary role is to penetrate the material obstructing the brain's blood flow, thereby restoring normal circulation. A standout feature is its precision and ability to adapt to the complex vascular structure of the human brain. Operated by an external magnet, the robot can rotate and move forward in a controlled way, marking a significant advancement in stroke therapy that could greatly enhance patient outcomes.

The robot has undergone extensive testing for effectiveness and safety, including trials in silicone models that simulate human blood vessels, as well as experiments using a human placenta and a live pig to assess performance in living tissues. These tests have yielded promising results, indicating this technology's potential to revolutionize medical treatment. While not yet approved for human patient use, the researchers at ETH Zurich are optimistic about its future application in stroke treatment. They continue to focus on research and development, with high hopes for the robot's ability to improve the quality of life for stroke patients.

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