Device for sensing tissues and tissue compartments

Year 2006
Project team Alexander Slocum, Omid Farokhzad and Jeff Karp

A catheter with a probe

Inserting needles for catheter placement into the human body is one of the most common medical procedures performed on millions of people annually in the United States alone — yet accidental misdirection of the needle still occurs in hundreds of thousands of patients, often causing severe complications. The central problem is an inability to distinguish the type of tissue the needle encounters as it is inserted into the body. Potentially devastating complications include venous catheters entering an artery, or an epidural needle penetrating completely through the intended epidural space and puncturing sensitive dural tissue. A device that mechanically senses when a needle passes from a high-resistance tissue region to a low-resistance region may address these issues. By creating a probe equipped with an appropriate mechanism, the catheter can react to the tissue it encounters and facilitate precise understanding of its progress. This project aims to develop and perform proof-of-concept experiments using prototype devices for sensing tissue and tissue compartments.