Recent Projects: Engineering in Medicine
Adjustable Tongue Retractor For Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery
The daVinci surgical robot allows a surgeon to operate precisely and remotely where conventional instruments cannot reach. When using it to operate through a patient's mouth ('Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery' or TORS) to access the back of a patient's throat, the surgeon must be able to compress the patient's tongue along the bottom jaw and away from the surgical site. State-of-the-art tongue retractors lack freedom of motion and obstruct access to the surgical site. We concluded that the optimal solution is an automated tongue retractor that can be adjusted remotely from the surgical console. We produced three prototypes and tested them at DHMC with Dr. Paydarfar using the device on a throat mannequin. We plan to pursue this project with him and apply for a patent.
Bringing The RedCap To Reality
Team: Richard Asala, Eric Hochberg, Robert Mercurio, Stephanie Wolf
Sponsors: Rick Balakier and Dan Gosselin
Advisor: Peter Robbie
A staggering $300 billion is lost annually on healthcare costs resulting from poor drug compliance, which also results in 300,000 unnecessary deaths and $100 billion spent annually on excess hospitalizations. In 2010 our sponsors and a team of Thayer students designed the RedCap to address the issue of patience adherence to prescription regimens. The RedCap is a modified pill vial cap that has a viewing window that always displays the time the patient's next dosage is due to be taken. The current design of the RedCap requires a unique vial for each type of dosage cap (1x/day, 2x/day, etc.). We worked on designing a RedCap system with a universal vial that fits all dosage cap types.
Microflora Isolation For Fecal Microbiota Transplantation
Team: Sharang Biswas, Jennifer Freise, Taylor Gray, Pauline Schmit, Alison Stace-Naughton
Sponsor: Pureflora Inc.
Advisor: Karl Griswold
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is an infectious intestinal pathogen. At its worst, it is drug resistant, highly virulent, and potentially deadly. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT), can harness the power of the body's naturally protective microbiome against the toxic effects of C. diff. In FMT, a healthy donor provides a stool sample, which is homogenized into a liquid and administered to the infected patient via enema or colonoscopy to bring C. diff under control. Our sponsor aims to bring FMT to the mainstream clinic by introducing a novel collection and isolation system that will optimize the process within a closed environment, mitigate cleaning difficulties, and reduce human exposure to fecal pathogens. Our deliverable separates viable bacteria from the insoluble waste in stool within a closed system and interfaces with last year's Engineering Sciences 89/90 homogenization device. This device will package its fluid product, which will be compatible with a multitude of delivery systems, including enema bag, colonoscopy, and gel encapsulation. We completed two works-like and looks-like prototypes. The first module is engineered for immediate use in FMT procedures, delivering the final product into a luer-lock syringe that interfaces with colonoscopy and enema delivery systems. The second module delivers the liquid into a set of standard Falcon tubes for use in centrifugal concentration and storage for use in later procedures or research.