Stryker chooses Microsoft HoloLens to design OR

Stryker has set out to improve the process for designing operating rooms for hospitals and surgery centers.

You may not be aware of it, but surgical disciplines from general, to urologic, orthopedic, cardiac, and ear nose and throat (ENT) use shared operating rooms. These specialties have widely different needs when it comes to operating room configuration and setup. Everything from lighting, to equipment, tools, and even patient orientation, varies depending on who is using the operating room at any given moment. Equipment placement is critical as it effects ergonomics, efficiency, and task load, all of which have the potential to burden staff and slow procedures.

Today, for hospitals to successfully design operating rooms that will accommodate these various medical disciplines, a critical meeting must take place. In this meeting, the heads of each surgical discipline, along with their staff, are physically present to outline the desired layout and implementation needed to successfully complete their procedures. This is a complicated and time-consuming process where people and a complex array of technology and equipment are shuffled around to determine what goes where, and when, to see how it will all fit.

Recognizing that the current model of operating room design needs to be evolved from 2D to 3D, and knowing that the needs of these specialties can be quite divergent, Stryker has found a way to design a shared operating room that can accommodate all surgical disciplines in a far more efficient manner.

Instead of needing all of the people from each surgical discipline, all the physical equipment required across all medical disciplines, all in one room at the same time, Stryker is now able to modify and build different operating room scenarios with holograms. No more time-consuming sessions where everyone needs to be physically present and no more need to move around heavy and expensive equipment to get a sense for how everything all fits together.

By / General Manager, Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Experiences

Source: Microsoft

3D Printing Customized Vascular Stents

Northwestern Engineering’s Guillermo Ameer and Cheng Sun have teamed up to use 3-D printing to develop flexible, biodegradable stents that are customized for a specific patient’s body.

“Right now, the vast majority of stents are made from a metal and have off-the-shelf availability in various sizes,” said Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and professor of surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine. “The physician has to guess which stent size is a good fit to keep the blood vessel open. But we’re all different and results are highly dependent on physician experience, so that’s not an optimal solution.”

Supported by the American Heart Association, the research is published online in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies. Robert van Lith, a postdoctoral fellow in Ameer’s laboratory, and Evan Baker, a graduate student in Sun’s laboratory, are co-first authors of the paper.

When ill-fitting stents move in the artery, they can ultimately fail. In these cases, physicians have to somehow re-open the blocked stent or bypass it with a vascular graft. It’s a costly and risky process.

“There are cases where a physician tries to stent a patient’s blood vessel, and the fit is not good,” Ameer said. “There might be geometric constraints in the patient’s vessel, such as a significant curvature that can disturb blood flow, causing traditional stents to fail. This is especially a problem for patients who have conditions that prevent the use of blood thinners, which are commonly given to patients who have stents. By printing a stent that has the exact geometric and biologic requirements of the patient’s blood vessel, we expect to minimize the probability of these complications.”

To create these customized stents, Ameer worked with Sun to adapt a 3-D printing technique, called projection micro-stereo-lithography, to fabricate stents using a polymer previously developed in Ameer’s lab. The technique uses a liquid photo-curable resin or polymer to print objects with light. When a pattern of light is shined on the polymer, it converts it into a solid that is then slowly displaced to cure the next layer of liquid polymer. The printing technology allows the team to fabricate a stent that precisely matches desirable design characteristics.

Sun’s 3-D printing technique, known as micro continuous liquid interface production (microCLIP), has several advantages. First, it is extremely high resolution. With the ability to print features as small as 7 microns, it is perfect for printing stents, which have very fine mesh dimensions and can be smaller than 3 millimeters in diameter. Second, it has the ability to print up to 100 stents at a time, producing them faster and potentially cheaper than traditional manufacturing methods. Third, it’s fast, printing a 4-centimeter stent in a matter of minutes.

Although current stents are made with metal wire mesh, Ameer used a citric-acid based polymer previously developed in his lab. The resulting stent is flexible, biodegradable, and has inherent antioxidant properties. Drugs can also be loaded onto the polymer and slowly released at the implantation site to improve the healing process in the blood vessel wall. Ameer has previously shown that the polymer can be engineered to inhibit clot formation when applied to vascular grafts. The stent is strong and biodegradable, allowing it to exercise its mechanical function during the vessel’s initial dilation and slowly dissolve as the re-opened blood vessel recovers.

“In theory, it’s safer because the patient doesn’t have permanent foreign metal devices in the body,” Ameer said. “If, for any reason in the future, the surgeon needs to go back in to that location in the vessel, they can. There’s not a metal stent in the way.”

Current biodegradable stents are made from plastics similar to those used for sutures. They are not as strong as wire mesh and can take longer than metal stents to fully expand when deployed. To compensate for this weakness, the plastic stents are strengthened by increasing the thickness of their struts relative to that of a metal stent. Ameer’s 3-D printed stent, however, can be fabricated with the thinner profile of traditional metal wire stents, so it is more compatible with the body.

Ameer and Sun, associate professor of mechanical engineering, imagine a future process whereby the dimensions of a patient’s vessel are obtained using standard imaging techniques available at hospitals, and a stent is then printed on site to exactly fit the vessel’s dimensions, packaged, and given to the surgeon for implantation. Next, Ameer plans to investigate how long it takes for his biodegradable stent to break down and absorb into the body. His team also aims to investigate innovative stent designs to improve their long-term performance.

“Not only can we customize the stent for a patient’s blood vessels,” he said, “but we can create all new types of patient-specific medical devices that could make the outcomes of surgical procedures better than what they are today.”

Source: Northwestern University

Promising biomaterial to build better bones with 3-D printing

A Northwestern University research team has developed a 3-D printable ink that produces a synthetic bone implant that rapidly induces bone regeneration and growth. This hyperelastic “bone” material, the shape of which can be easily customized, one day could be especially useful for the treatment of bone defects in children.

Bone implantation surgery is never an easy process, but it is particularly painful and complicated for children. With both adults and children, often times bone is harvested from elsewhere in the body to replace the missing bone, which can lead to other complications and pain. Metallic implants are sometimes used, but this is not a permanent fix for growing children.

“Adults have more options when it comes to implants,” said Ramille N. Shah, who led the research. “Pediatric patients do not. If you give them a permanent implant, you have to do more surgeries in the future as they grow. They might face years of difficulty.”

Source: Northwestern University

New technique generates human neural stem cells for tissue engineering, 3D brain models

Tufts University researchers have discovered a new technique for generating rapidly-differentiating human neural stem cells for use in a variety of tissue engineering applications, including a three-dimensional model of the human brain, according to a paper published today in Stem Cell Reports. The work could pave the way for experiments that engineer other innervated tissues, such as the skin and cornea, and for the development of human brain models with diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Researchers converted human fibroblasts and adipose-derived stem cells into stable, human induced neural stem cell (hiNSC) lines that acquire the features of active neurons within as few as four days, compared to the typical four weeks, according to the paper. The neural stem cells are hardy, can be frozen, passaged indefinitely, and have unique attributes that allow them to grow well in vitro with other cell types, such as skeletal muscle. When injected into an early stage chicken embryo, the hiNSCs incorporated into the brain as well as the neurons of the peripheral nervous system that innervate tissues in a developing limb.

Full story is available from Tufts University website.

3-D printed structures “remember” their shapes

Engineers from MIT and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are using light to print three-dimensional structures that “remember” their original shapes. Even after being stretched, twisted, and bent at extreme angles, the structures — from small coils and multimaterial flowers, to an inch-tall replica of the Eiffel tower — sprang back to their original forms within seconds of being heated to a certain temperature “sweet spot.”

For some structures, the researchers were able to print micron-scale features as small as the diameter of a human hair — dimensions that are at least one-tenth as big as what others have been able to achieve with printable shape-memory materials.

Full story is available from MIT website.