Bendy surgical needles go around your organs with ease

You may not want to face this fact if you’re afraid of needles, but it’s a simple truth: In the course of treating the spectrum of human medical conditions, doctors are often forced to stick large needles deep inside your body (they will claim to get no pleasure out of this, surely). The problem is that your body is pretty tightly jam-packed with important items and needles are straight and rigid, which means it can often be hard to avoid piercing other things on the way to your target. But now flexible needles with asymmetric tips can chart arced paths through the body, swerving past organs and dodging dense tissue. This tech could one day expand the reach of minimally invasive surgeries.

The needles are being designed at a Stanford robotics lab headed by Allison Okamura. They’re made of nitinol, a shape memory alloy, and bore through the soft tissue of the body spinning like a drill bit. “They’re very bendy, not squishy,” Okamura clarifies. A needle made of nitinol is hard to touch, but can bend to outrageous angles without breaking or permanently changing shape. “You could wrap it around your finger if you wanted to,” Okamura says.

As the shape of the needle tip is changed, it alters the backward pressure the needle tip faces as it plunges through the body, and so alters the curvature of the path the needle takes. This added dexterity opens up the possibility, Okamura says, for surgeons to one day perform minimally invasive procedures that they otherwise hadn’t considered.

Source: fastcoexist.comAdded: 6 August 2012