A new surgical instrument inspired by wasps

We have always said it: we have to look to nature to plan our future. Now, a team of Dutch researchers has done so and devised a surgical device inspired by parasitic wasps that could make it easier and less painful to remove some tumors and blood clots.

Parasitic wasps inject their eggs through a long, thin tubular organ called ovipositor in living hosts, such as spiders and caterpillars. The organ’s blade-shaped valves, which run the full length of the tube, slide up and down alternately, pushing the eggs into the wasp victims using friction. And it is precisely these frictional forces that the researchers used in implementing their device.

“The wasp ovipositor is so thin that it can’t actually fit any muscle inside it, so we knew it was a clever mechanical solution that was worth studying to see if we could recreate it,” explains lead author Dr Aimée Sakes of Bio-Inspired Technology Group at Delft University of Technology, led by Prof. Dr. Paul Breedveld. “The ovipositor-inspired transport system uses the friction generated between the blades and tissues to transport those tissues, in the same way that the wasp ovipositor works to transport wasp eggs.”

The application of these friction-based techniques in the design of new surgical devices may allow researchers to overcome the limitations of current instruments, which work by suction. This poses challenges, as suction-based devices lose their effectiveness once they have decreased in size, making it difficult to limit tissue damage caused by surgery.

“We already see challenges arise with current devices, as they often become clogged when blood clots are removed. Furthermore, we cannot currently reach remote locations in the human body or perform surgery in microstructures, such as parts of the brain, due to the relatively large size of MIS (Minimally Invasive Surgery) instruments. However, our system could potentially allow the removal of tumor tissues deep within the human body through miniature incisions in the future “, says Dr. Sakes.

Below is an explanatory video:

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Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by beppegrillo.it.

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