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Smart Needle Detects At-Risk Blood Vessels

Apr 2017
A new high-tech tiny imaging probe encased with a brain biopsy needle could make brain surgery safer.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide developed the medical device that will let surgeons "see" at-risk blood vessels as they insert the needle; this will potentially lessen fatal brain bleeds. The project is a collaboration with the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

This is the smart needle that is able to detect blood vessels deep in the body. Courtesy of the University of Adelaide.

Professor Robert McLaughlin, Chair of Biophotonics at the University of Adelaide, said they call the device a “smart needle.”

“It contains a tiny fiber-optic camera, the size of a human hair, shining infrared light to see the vessels before the needle can damage them," said McLaughlin.

Over the past six months, the smart needle has been used in pilot trials with 12 patients undergoing neurosurgery at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia. The smart needle will be ready for formal clinical trials in 2018.

Professor Robert McLaughlin and fellow University of Adelaide research team member Bryden Quirk working on the smart needle. Courtesy of the University of Adelaide.

McLaughlin’s team is in discussions with a number of international medical device manufacturers and they are seeking to manufacture the smart needles in Australia.

"It's an ideal technology to commercialize in Australia," says Professor McLaughlin. "We have the engineering expertise and world-class hospitals here, and enthusiasm from the surgeons."

BiophotonicscamerasimagingResearch & TechnologyeducationMicroscopySensors & DetectorsRobert McLaughlinsmart needlesBioScan

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