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Mechanical needle inserter feels the right spot

  March 23, 2009
Decades of extracting oil from underground has proven to be bad for the planet's health, but a drilling technique developed over the years could be good for yours.

A filament inside an S-shaped needle, modeled on oil drilling equipment, promises to ensure that healthcare workers hit their targets when they inject drugs, implant medical devices and draw blood.

Placing the tip of the needle against firm tissue and pushing the filament causes the filament to buckle inside the needle. Continuing to push the filament transfers the force to the sidewalls of the curved sections of the needle, so the needle and the filament together pass into the tissue. When the tip of the needle reaches softer tissue or a cavity like a blood vessel, the lower resistance lets the filament spring free, which stops the needle.

The needle insertion device should reduce the number of medical complications from needles that miss their marks.

Research paper:
Design of a Mechanical Clutch-Based Needle-Insertion Device
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online March 23, 2009

Researchers' homepages:
Alexander H. Slocum
Peter T. Masiakos
Omid C. Farokhzad
Jeffery M. Karp

Related stories and briefs:
Microneedles give painless shots -- related research

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