Surgeons use 3D-printed heart to save life of 2-week-old baby

A 2-week-old baby underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect, thanks to a 3D-printed model

Surgeons created a 3D model of the child’s heart using data from an MRI, which gave them a guide to perform the operation.

“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with [congenital heart defect], but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” Dr. Emile Bacha, head of cardiac surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, who performed the surgery July 21 at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, told the News-Times.

“In the past, we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do,” Bacha said. “With this technique, it was like we had a road map to guide us. We were able to repair the baby’s heart with one operation.”

Source : fox news

‘Instagram for doctors’ to be launched in Europe

An app which enables healthcare professionals to share photos is to be rolled out across western Europe by the end of the year. The app was designed to enable doctors to share pictures of their patients, both with each other and with medical students.

So far, more than 150,000 doctors have uploaded case photos with the patient’s identity obscured. 'Instagram for doctors' to be launched in EuropeHowever, some experts have expressed concern about patient confidentiality. Patients’ faces are automatically obscured by the app but users must manually block identifying marks like tattoos.

Each photo is reviewed by moderators before it is added to the database.

No secrets

Founder Dr Josh Landy told the BBC that the Figure 1 service did not access any patient records. “We do not possess any personal medical data at all. The best way to keep a secret is not to have it. We are not an organisation that delivers healthcare,” he told .

But doctors must provide identifying credentials and are also advised to notify their employees and patients to find out about consent policies. “Legally, we found that identifying the doctor does not identify the patient,” said Dr Landy.

“However some [medical] conditions are so rare that they can’t be posted. One user wanted to post something but there are only seven cases of it in the US and they had all been reportable because they are rare, so the patient could have been identified.” Anybody can download the app for free, but only verified healthcare professionals can upload photos or comment on them, he added.

“We reject sensationalistic images,” said Dr Landy. “Everything is there for educational purposes. That said, there are very colourful images – things medics see every day. It’s a transparent view into a world you rarely get to see.” The app is already available in North America, the UK and Ireland.

While digital services such as UpToDate and DynaMed – both requiring a subscription – are already widely used within the healthcare community as clinical knowledge databases, they are not rivals to Figure 1, said Dr Landy. “UpToDate is an app I love, and have used for years. However, they have a highly curated repository of articles written and edited by experts in the field.

“What our app does is provide the opportunity to contribute any case no matter how classic or unusual. Ours is all image-based and totally crowdsourced.” The app has received $6m (£3.75m) in investment in the last year. British GP and author Dr Ellie Cannon gave it a cautious welcome.

“I think it’s potentially really useful to share photos with medical students and other doctors,” she said. “Obviously the potential pitfall is the confidentiality. Of course, they are anonymised but even uploading from a certain doctor may go some way to identify a patient,” she added.

“And can a patient later opt out? We’ve seen with other sites the downsides of sharing too much.”

Source: bbc news

Now, wearable ‘skin-like’ device to monitor heart, skin health

Scientists have developed a new device, which is much like skin itself and when worn, monitors heart and skin.

According to the researchers from Northwestern University and University of Illinois the medical device can quickly alert a person if they are having cardiovascular trouble or if it was simply time to put on some skin moisturizer. The small device, approximately five centimeters square, can be placed directly on the skin and worn 24/7 for around-the-clock health monitoring. The wireless technology uses thousands of tiny liquid crystals on a flexible substrate to sense heat. When the device turns color, the wearer knows something is awry.

Now, wearable 'skin-like' device to monitor heart, skin health

Senior researcher Yonggang Huang led the portion of the research focused on theory, design and modeling. The technology and its relevance to basic medicine have been demonstrated in this study, although additional testing is needed before the device can be put to use.

The technology uses the transient temperature change at the skin’s surface to determine blood flow rate, which is of direct relevance to cardiovascular health, and skin hydration levels. The device is an array of up to 3,600 liquid crystals, each half a millimeter square, laid out on a thin, soft and stretchable substrate.

Huang said that when a crystal sensed temperature, it changed color, and the dense array provided a snapshot of how the temperature is distributed across the area of the device. An algorithm translated the temperature data into an accurate health report, all in less than 30 seconds.

With its 3,600 liquid crystals, the photonic device had 3,600 temperature points, providing sub-millimeter spatial resolution that was comparable to the infrared technology currently used in hospitals.

The device also has a wireless heating system that could be powered by electromagnetic waves present in the air. The heating system was used to determine the thermal properties of the skin.

The study is published online in the journal Nature Communications.

Indian scientists create diagnostic kit for sickle cell anemia

Indian scientists create diagnostic kit for sickle cell anemia


This portable diagnostic kit, a lab-on-a-chip, could be used even by untrained health workers.

The team from the Indian Institute of Technology-Powai, (IIT-P) – Debjani Paul, Ninad Mehendale and Ammar Jagirdar said they will make full use of the rising penetration of mobile phones in India to extend their data processing, sharing and imaging prowess to craft inexpensive diagnostic kits for sickle cell anemia.

Paul and her team is planning to develop a microfluidic chip which can be combined with a mobile phone-based diagnosis platform and used by relatively untrained health workers in rural areas to diagnose sickle cell anemia.

This disorder is widely seen in tribals in the remote regions of states like Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.

Paul said that around five percent of the children affected by sickle cell disease (SCD) die before they reach the age of two. At present, the doctors detect this disease in clinical settings by techniques such as hemoglobin electrophoresis, high-performance liquid chromatography, etc. These techniques are pretty costly.

Paul added that they are planning to develop the kit over the next 18 months. The project proposed by Paul and her students of the Institute’s Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering received a Grand Challenges Explorations grant in June.

Source: delhi daily news

3D-printed prosthetic arms rescue child victims of war

3D-printed prosthetic arms rescue child victims of warDaniel Omar was a 14-year-old tending his goats in war-torn Sudan when the dirty bomb landed, full of kerosene and nails. The explosion cost him more than just his arms. It took away his means of survival, his will to live.

But help would come from a most unlikely source. After reading a magazine article about Daniel’s plight, American Mick Ebeling helped pull together a “dream team” of innovators to create a low-cost prosthetic arm using 3D printing technology.

The prosthesis can be produced in a matter of hours using plastic, screws, cables and bolts — about $100 worth of parts in total. With his new arm, Daniel is able to feed himself again, essential in an area where daily survival is a struggle.

Virtually no one in the area had used a 3D printer before Ebeling’s team arrived in November 2013. Yet today, Daniel is printing arms for others, helping more of the region’s 50,000 amputees get new limbs.

‘Who is your Daniel’

Ebeling is the co-founder of the Not Impossible group. Its goal: to tell stories of health care innovation that will inspire people – maybe even you – to take action. “The question we ask is, ‘Who is your Daniel?'” Ebeling told CBC in an interview. “What is the story you read, who is the person you know in your life?”

For Ebeling, his “Daniel” was a legendary L.A. graffiti artist named Tempt One, who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It was 2009, and without the use of his limbs and most motor functions, Tempt could no longer make his art.

Tempt’s brother pleaded for help. Ebeling decided he had to deliver, somehow, some way. He didn’t have the technical expertise, but he did know some brilliant minds he could bring together to focus on the problem. Two weeks of caffeine-powered hacking later, a solution was born: the Eyewriter.

Hooked up to a pair of glasses, this inexpensive device tracks a user’s eye movements using a webcam and translates them into objects on a screen. Tempt could draw again. And Ebeling had his a-ha moment. “After that, we’re like, ‘There’s something here,'” he explained. “There’s a nucleus of energy and we have to figure out how to channel this to do other things.”

Not Impossible co-founder Elliot Kotek elaborated on the philosophy at a recent North by Northeast presentation in Toronto. “We’re about technology for the sake of humanity,” Kotek said. “We love tech … but we like to look at it through a different lens: How is this innovation going to help people?”

Something just clicked

Then in July 2013, Ebeling learned about the work of Dr. Tom Catena. Catena runs the Mother of Mercy hospital in the Nuba Mountains. He is the only physician in the disputed area in Sudan and South Sudan, and Daniel is his patient. Something just clicked. Ebeling had an inkling of how he might help Daniel.

He had recently learned of the work of Richard Van As, a South African who had created a prosthetic hand using 3D printing technology. A tougher question, though, was how to get the necessary supplies and technology into the middle of a war zone. Ebeling didn’t have a clue. As with the Eyewriter, he set about pulling together a team that did.

“Like everything we tackle,” Ebeling said, “we jump[ed] in, with the belief that we’re going to make it not impossible.”

Literally, there were bugs

“Not impossible” does not equal easy. For starters, the team wasn’t sure where Daniel was or even if he was still alive. Luckily, Dr. Catena had relocated him among the 70,000 people at the Yida refugee camp.

Like baking a cake

The prosthetic the team designed was a remarkably low-tech device produced using 3D printing technology that, while not exactly new, has only become mainstream in the past few years.

Ebeling and Kotek say the process of printing the arms is as “easy as baking a cake.” First, the parts are printed and assembled. (See below for more on how a 3D printer works.)

Then a piece of special plastic is moulded to fit the person’s limb and the moving parts are attached to that. Cables are spooled through each digit. A motion of the elbow draws on the cables, which close and open the hand.

The design’s simplicity means that if a part breaks, a new one can be printed. It also means the arms are now printed locally, long after the Americans have gone home. And that, says Ebeling, is one of the project’s biggest successes.

Connecting inspired minds

Not Impossible wants to repeat the success of Project Daniel in other parts of the world – potentially launching 3D prosthetic labs in places like Sierra Leone, Nicaragua and Vietnam. They also want to inspire others to take up their own causes. One of the group’s mottos is “Help one, help many,” a virtuous cycle of innovation and inspiration.

To that end, they’ve created Not Impossible Now, a website that serves as a hub for people with a need and the sharp minds required to tackle the problem.

One project seeks to get an exoskeleton for a girl in Mexico to help her walk again. Another aims to help the deaf hear music. Not Impossible wants their legacy to be hundreds or thousands of innovations, all created by people who were connected by passion and inspired by stories like Daniel’s.

“That,” Ebeling said, “would be the true measure of success.”

Source: cbc news

New MIT finger device reads to blind in real time

New MIT finger device reads to blind in real time

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user’s finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.

Reading is as easy as pointing the finger at text. Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information. The device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script, said Roy Shilkrot, who is developing the device at the MIT Media Lab.

For Jerry Berrier, 62, who was born blind, the promise of the FingerReader is its portability and offer of real-time functionality at school, a doctor’s office and restaurants.

“When I go to the doctor’s office, there may be forms that I wanna read before I sign them,” Berrier said.

He said there are other optical character recognition devices on the market for those with vision impairments, but none that he knows of that will read in real time.

Berrier manages training and evaluation for a federal program that distributes technology to low-income people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who have lost their sight and hearing. He works from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts.

“Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with. I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it,” Berrier said.

Pattie Maes, an MIT professor who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like “reading with the tip of your finger and it’s a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now.”

Developing the gizmo has taken three years of software coding, experimenting with various designs and working on feedback from a test group of visually impaired people. Much work remains before it is ready for the market, Shilkrot said, including making it work on cellphones.

Shilkrot said developers believe they will be able to affordably market the FingerReader but he could not yet estimate a price. The potential market includes some of the 11.2 million people in the United States with vision impairment, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

Current technology used in homes and offices offers cumbersome scanners that must process the desired script before it can be read aloud by character-recognition software installed on a computer or smartphone, Shilkrot said. The FingerReader would not replace Braille – the system of raised dots that form words, interpreted by touch. Instead, Shilkrot said, the new device would enable users to access a vast number of books and other materials that are not currently available in Braille.

Developers had to overcome unusual challenges to help people with visual impairments move their reading fingers along a straight line of printed text that they could not see. Users also had to be alerted at the beginning and end of the reading material.

Their solutions? Audio cues in the software that processes information from the FingerReader and vibration motors in the ring.

The FingerReader can read papers, books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices, but it has problems with text on a touch screen, said Shilkrot.

That’s because touching the screen with the tip of the finger would move text around, producing unintended results. Disabling the touch-screen function eliminates the problem, he said.

Berrier said affordable pricing could make the FingerReader a key tool to help people with vision impairment integrate into the modern information economy.

“Any tool that we can get that gives us better access to printed material helps us to live fuller, richer, more productive lives, Berrier said.

Source: fox news

Cheap Portable Device to Diagnose TB Faster

Cheap Portable Device to Diagnose TB Faster

Researchers have developed a cheap enzyme-based method that can diagnose tuberculosis (TB) more accurately and faster than available devices.

This inexpensive portable diagnosis system can cut the time it takes to spot TB bacteria from weeks or months to less than half an hour.

Chemist Jianghong Rao of Stanford University and microbiologist Jeffrey Cirillo of Texas A&M University developed a chemical called CDG-3 that glows when it is broken down by an mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB bacteria) enzyme called BlaC.

The researchers found they could detect as few as 10 TB bacteria in a millilitre sample.

They then tested the method on 50 sputum samples from people in Texas.
It correctly identified all the samples that contained M tuberculosis visible under a microscope, and 80 per cent of those in which infections were not visible.

When tested in people without TB, the CDG-3 probe diagnosed them correctly 73 per cent of the time.

Rao and Cirillo are now working to develop a portable, battery-powered device that measures the fluorescence coming from CDG-3 as it is broken down.
The device is expected to hit the market in 2015.

A single test will cost about $5 (Rs 295) and will take less than 30 minutes to deliver a diagnosis, said the paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

A device to cultivate single bacteria species: Millions of microbial species populate the world, but so far only a few have been identified due to the inability of most microbes to grow in the laboratory.

Edgar Goluch, an engineer, and Slava Epstein, a biologist, both from Northeastern University in the US have now developed a device that allows scientists to cultivate a single species of bacteria that can then be studied and identified.

This new device permits just a single bacterial cell to enter an inner chamber containing a food source, to which the only access is a microscopic passageway just slightly narrower than a single cell.

The passageway is so small that the first cell to enter it gets stuck, blocking entry by any other cell or species.

Once inside, this cell proliferate as in previous devices, and when it does it fills up the inner chamber with a pure, single-species sample, since it is isolated from competition from other species.
The researchers demonstrated the device’s ability to separate mixtures of cell types in a laboratory setting.

In one experiment, the researchers separated two different bacterial species whose cells are slightly different sizes — E coli and P aueruginosa.
In a second experiment, they isolated a combination of similarly sized but differently shaped species that commonly show up together in the marine environment — Roseobacter sp and Pscyhoserpens sp.

Finally, they used the device to separate cells of the same species that had been differentially tagged to glow either red or green.
The findings appeared in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: Oman Observer


Tiny robotic arm could operate on babies in the womb

surgery in the womb

Some birth defects in newborns could one day be a thing of the past due to new robotics technologies being developed to perform surgery on babies in the womb.

Spina bifida is one such disease, affecting approximately 1 in 2,500 newborns worldwide, where a lesion on the back leaves the spinal cord exposed in the womb, leading to severe disabilities, learning difficulties, and sometimes death.
The best option is to perform surgery to correct the problem before the baby is born but the complexities of such a procedure mean this currently only takes place in five countries worldwide. Most countries instead perform surgery after a child is born, but when the majority of damage has been done.

To reduce the risk involved in fetal surgery, scientists at University College London (UCL), and KU Leuven in Belgium are developing a miniscule robotic arm to enter the womb with minimum disruption to mother and baby. The robotics are targeting spina bifida but also lesser known conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome, where blood passes unequally between twins who share a placenta, and fetal lower urinary tract obstruction, where babies are unable to urinate in the womb and their bladders become large and distended.

surgery in the womb1

Surgery on fetuses has been effective in treating some conditions to date, but for spina bifida, the risks to mother and baby mean surgery is currently only performed in a handful of countries, where specialist teams exist.

“Most birth defects can be prevented if we can intervene earlier,” says Professor Sebastien Ourselin, from the UCL Center for Medical Image Computing, who is leading the new research project. “But currently, surgical delivery systems are not available and operating on babies in the womb is reserved for just a handful of the most severe defects as risks are too high.”

Ourselin’s team plans to develop a small three-armed robot, no more than 2 cm wide, to allow more surgeries to take place, as part of a $17 million project funded by the Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

surgery in the womb2

The device will consist of a photoacoustic camera that provides 3D imaging of the fetus in real time, which will help guide two flexible arms to deliver gels or patches to seal the gap in the spine of babies with spina bifida. If successful, the arms will be developed with more dexterity and degrees of freedom to perform surgery themselves and treat further conditions such as congenital heart disease. They may even deliver stem cells as stem cell therapies progress. Once entry into the womb becomes safe, the potential is huge.

In countries where fetal surgery is currently performed, surgeons cut into the mother’s womb before 26 weeks of pregnancy, but there are health risks, side effects to mothers and risks of pre-term labor.

surgery in the womb3

“Where surgery is available in Europe, people are reluctant and fearful of the side-effects,” explains Dr. Jan Deprest, who is leading the work at KU Leuven and has patients declining surgery quite regularly. “Robotic surgery is becoming popular these days and we need to take advantage of that and improve not only the number of patients choosing surgery but also improve the freedom with which we can operate using these flexible probes.”

surgery in the womb4

To have the best effect, surgery must take place before 26 weeks to prevent damage to the exposed spinal cord and the resulting disability. Ourselin wants to go in even earlier.

“We want to go in at 16 weeks to provide the greatest benefit to patients and no one is doing this yet,” concludes Ourselin. “The most important thing is to reduce the invasiveness of the procedure as you want to avoid causing pre-term labor. If we can make this possible, we want to expand treatment to be possible for all diseases which are already present at birth.”

Source: CNN

This Microwave Helmet Can Sense Strokes


Scientists in Sweden have invented a helmet that can identify whether a person has experienced a stroke, the BBC reports.

The headwear can further determine what kind of a stroke has occurred, allowing doctors to quickly diagnose and treat patients.

The helmet works by bouncing microwaves off a person’s brain and identifying whether there’s a bleed or a clot within it. Initial tests, involving 45 patients, proved successful. The helmet’s inventors now plan to roll the device out to ambulance teams and eventually put the technology in pillows as well.

At present, doctors treating stroke victims need to determine whether a clot or a leaking blood vessel caused the stroke. A CT scan is able to show this, but CT scanners aren’t available in every hospital and a scan can take time to set up. Delays in stroke treatment can be serious — brain tissue can begin to die if more than four hours passes between a stroke and treatment. The microwave helmet could reduce such delays, though researchers say more testing is required.

Some doctors have suggested that the helmet won’t completely replace other forms of diagnosis.

Dr. Shamim Quadir from the UK’s Stroke Association said that “while this research is at an early stage, microwave-based systems may become a portable, affordable, technology that could help rapidly identify the type of stroke a patient has had, and get them treated faster.”

Source: Time

Artificial Pancreas Shows Promise in Diabetes Test

Artificial Pancreas

A portable artificial pancreas built with a modified iPhone successfully regulated blood sugar levels in a trial with people who have Type 1 diabetes, researchers reported Sunday.

Type 1 diabetes, which usually starts in childhood or young adulthood, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. Insulin works in conjunction with glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar. Together, they keep blood sugar in a healthy range.

Currently about one-third of people with Type 1 diabetes rely on insulin pumps to regulate blood sugar. They eliminate the need for injections and can be programmed to mimic the natural release of insulin by dispensing small doses regularly.

But these pumps do not automatically adjust to the patient’s variable insulin needs, and they do not dispense glucagon. The new device, described in a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, dispenses both hormones, and it does so with little intervention from the patient.

“The data address some of the most difficult problems in diabetes management,” said Dr. Kevan Herold, director of the Yale Diabetes Center, who was not involved in the study. “I’d say that the effects are quite significant and noteworthy.”

Dr. Fredric E. Wondisford, director of the diabetes institute at Johns Hopkins, also found the results encouraging. “To me, it’s a clear advance,” he said. But he cautioned that the effectiveness and practicality of the device had still not been tested in large numbers of patients over long periods of time. He also raised the issue of cost and insurance coverage.

Treatment of Type 1 diabetes is complicated. Patients not using pumps need two or more insulin injections a day, and all have to monitor blood sugar several times a day by pricking their skin and testing their blood.

Maintaining safe blood sugar levels requires precise adjustments, especially to prevent hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can occur quickly, without the patient’s awareness, and can be a life-threatening emergency.

For patients with adequate treatment, elevated blood sugar is usually not an emergency, but can cause vascular damage over time that can lead to eye problems and amputations.

The artificial pancreas is the latest version of a device that researchers have been refining for several years. The system consists of an iPhone 4S with an attached glucose monitoring device, two pumps, and reservoirs for insulin and glucagon.

A sensor implanted under the skin on one side of the patient’s abdomen measures the glucose in the fluid between the cells, which corresponds closely to blood glucose levels. The sensor delivers the reading to the smartphone, and the phone’s software calculates a dose of insulin and glucagon every five minutes.

The medicine is then pumped through thin tubes to two tiny infusion points embedded just under the skin on the other side of the patient’s abdomen.

The phone also has an app with which a patient can enter information immediately before eating, indicating whether the meal is breakfast, lunch or dinner, and whether the carbohydrate content will be small, large or typical. The device then calculates and dispenses the proper dosages.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
The device still requires a finger stick twice a day to get an accurate blood reading, which the patient enters into the phone.

The developers tested the device over five days in two groups of patients, 20 adults and 32 adolescents, comparing the results with readings obtained with conventional insulin pumps that the participants were using.

The adults in the trial each had the constant attention of a nurse, and they lived in a hotel for the five-day study. Most of the time they were free to travel around and pursue normal activities.

The adolescents, 16 boys and 16 girls, lived under supervision in a summer camp for youths with diabetes.

“We need to do a true home-use study, give people the device and send them home,” said the lead author, Dr. Steven J. Russell, an assistant professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Let them do whatever it is they’re going to do without supervision.”

Several authors of the new report have received payments from medical device companies and hold patents on blood sugar monitoring technology.

The artificial pancreas performed better than the conventional pump on several measures. Among the adolescents, the average number of interventions for hypoglycemia was 0.8 a day with the experimental pump, compared with 1.6 a day with the insulin pumps. Among adults, the device significantly reduced the amount of time that glucose levels fell too low.

And the artificial pancreas worked well at calculating mealtime doses without the patient having to use (often inaccurate) estimates and correct a too high or too low reading after eating.

Much more work needs to be done before the device can be marketed, Dr. Russell said. The senior author, Edward R. Damiano, an associate professor of biomechanical engineering at Boston University, has a 15-year-old son with Type 1 diabetes. He said he was determined to get the new device working and approved in time for his son to go off to college carrying one.

Source: nytimes