It is a known fact that brain clots can be a leading cause of death or physical impairment. In fact, as many surgical failures have shown, 40% of the people affected by a blood clot or intra-cerebral hemorrhage die within a month and many of the surviving patients are left with significant brain damage. But there is hope now, with the new blood clot sucking robot discovery made by Vanderbilt University researchers.

What is this new robot surgeon doing? Well, according to the Tennessee University professors, this robotic needle can be programmed to perform surgical procedures on parts of the brain that were deemed too dangerous for surgery before. If you think of all those cranial blood clots that have a 40% lethality rate and areas of the brain that could not be gotten to as a result of physical surgery, you will understand how this discovery has the potential of being a truly groundbreaking tool for surgeons.

The blood clot sucking robot can perform interventions in areas of the brain previously thought inaccessible.

The blood clot sucking robot can perform interventions in areas of the brain previously thought inaccessible.

The device uses a cannula which is equipped with a needle, a thin tube that is inserted into the brain and sucks the clot out from within. This is non-invasive, as only a small hole is made in the skull, used for the 0.20 inch tube insertion. The robotic device then uses a CAT scan tool to guide itself through and push the tube into the brain until it comes in contact with the clot. The curved tip needle inside the tube will then penetrate the clot. The needle is attached to a pump that is operated automatically to suck the blood inside the clot.

In the lab simulations researchers made, a similar structure to the brain was used, with a gelatin brain mold. The cannula was able to remove over 90% of the blood clot.

The thing that is most promising about this robot surgeon device is that the needle is steerable in nature and can be used to avoid vital parts of the brain, so no damage is actually brought to the adjacent tissue.

The Vanderbilt researchers are currently working on developing a supplemental ultrasound imaging for this device as well as a computer model illustrating the way healthy brain tissue will deform around a blood clot.  This robotic system is made specifically for trans-nasal surgery, a less invasive brain surgical procedure.

According to researchers, the trickiest part comes after a substantial part of the clot has been removed, since the external pressure may cause the edges of that clot to collapse, and this may turn the procedure into a more complicated operation.

[Image via MedicalDaily]