29 May 2015
A new paper, presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), explains how tiny robots could be used to improve less-invasive medical procedures.
According to the authors of 'Toward Tissue Penetration by MRI-powered Millirobots Using a Self-Assembled Gauss Gun', the robots would be driven by magnetic potential energy from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners.
Dr Aaron Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, said the potential technology could be used to treat hydrocephalus and other conditions. This would mean surgeons would not need to conduct current treatments that require cutting through the skull to implant pressure-relieving shunts.
The paper describes a technique that can penetrate tissue by generating large impulsive forces. This would be achieved by sending tiny manoeuvrable robotic components to a specific location and then converting magnetic potential energy into enough kinetic energy to cut through tissue.
Dr Becker, along with colleagues, used an MRI scanner to map routes on high-quality brain images, using the scanner's magnetic fields to push the small robots.
"Our noninvasive approach would eventually require simply a hypodermic needle or lumbar puncture to introduce the components into the spinal canal, and the components could be steered out of the body afterwards," Dr Becker said.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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