Recently, Harvard scientists took on the challenge of expanding the catheter's capabilities to address specific requirements of open heart surgery while simultaneously offering a significantly less invasive approach to complex cardiac procedures.
The research team was led by Robert D. Howe, Abbot and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences along with Dr. Pedro del Nido, Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Children's Hospital Boston.
(image courtesy of Harvard University)
Traditionally, open-heart surgery is expensive and dangerous, typically requiring patients to be placed on the surgical heart-lung equipment, and often is plagued by side effects ranging from loss of cognition to loss of life.
However, with the team's research, a different option is now available. Equipped with the ability to quickly and flexibly interact with rapidly moving structures inside a beating heart, this "cathbot" is a robotic actuated catheter system that can compensate for the rapid heart movement while performing surgery on the delicate structures of the cardiac organ.
The cathbot is made up of a cardiac-interior catheter module, a 3D ultrasound imaging system that visualizes the catheter and tissue of interest, and a system that directs the robot to follow a specific path based on the ultrasound imaging.
Image courtesy of Harvard SEAS
This technology enables less-invasive surgical procedures to be performed, minimizing the risk of fatalities and eliminates a large percentage of the mistakes due to human error. Large incisions do not have to be made, and the patient doesn't have to rely on heart-lung bypass machines or sedatives.
The Harvard team is now exploring the possibilities involved with using the technology for heart valve repair, cardiac tissue resection, biopsies, and electrophysiology procedures. Their end goal is to commercialize the research to make less-invasive procedures in hospitals available to patients.
Source: Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
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