A post-stroke catheter with real-time results

It’s definitely a stroke. An MRI confirms it, showing where a blockage in the brain is, and the damage it has caused to that point.

The surgeon will need to thread a catheter into the damaged area to suck out the blood clot, but typically only has a dated X-ray image to help him navigate the location of the clot. What the image won’t clarify is living or dead brain tissue, and the threat of removing living tissue has potentially dire consequences.

That's where an innovative non-metal catheter under development could step in. The catheter performs under MRI guidance that aims to allow ongoing assessment of the affected area. “We want to be able to bring these catheters up into the brain and image the brain with an MRI right during our procedure so that we can know in real time whether we should continue opening that blood vessel or if we should stop,” says Steven Hetts, M.D., chief of neuroradiology at San Francisco General Hospital and an interventional neuroradiology specialist at the University of California San Francisco.

The catheter won’t heat up under the MRI unit, and the magnetic field won’t pull it in a direction other than where the physician wants. In fact, Hetts has engineered it to be more easily guided by the magnetism, through tiny steering coils at the tip.

Human trials are three to four years away.

Porthole to the brain

A transparent implant replacing part of a patient’s skull, and laced with lasers, has advanced in development, bringing closer the possibility of seeing into the brain and delivering minimally invasive treatments for serious neurological problems on demand instead of repeatedly opening and closing the skull, as reported in Science Daily.

Hey, smart threads

Scientists have infused thread used in sutures with “nanomaterials” that can monitor and report how tissue in the area is healing, among other possible uses in monitoring the goings-on inside the body, according to an article in Microsystems and Nanoengineering.