UK researchers develop ultrasonic needle
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Researchers in the UK are developing a new ultrasonic needle which would help in effective delivery of drugs to parts of the body obscured by bone.
A University of Glasgow-led project, which is developing this new type of surgical needle, is one of 15 engineering projects to share in 12.2 million pounds of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Margaret Lucas, Professor of Ultrasonics at the University's School of Engineering, and her partner researchers at the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh have received
982,000 pounds to support three years of work to develop a needle which vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies.
Previous ultrasonic cutting technology developed by Prof Lucas and her team is capable of removing the shell of an egg without damaging the membrane below.
The technology would allow doctors to penetrate bone with needles with much less force than is currently required, improving the effectiveness of biopsies and allowing a more effective delivery of drugs to parts of the body obscured by bone.
Ultrasonic needles could also make it easier for doctors to penetrate areas of hard tissue without affecting the surrounding soft tissue.
Previous research carried out by Professor Lucas has led to the development of ultrasonic cutting tools precise enough to remove sections from the shell of an egg without breaking the membrane underneath.
Professor Lucas said: "We've been working for several years to explore the applications of ultrasonic vibrations to allow surgeons to cut through bone more quickly and easily, and we're excited about the potential of applying similar
technology to needles.
"We're grateful to EPSRC for their support and are looking forward to developing this technology further. Ultrasonic needles could have tremendous benefits for medicine across a wide range of fields, including oncology, neurosurgery, orthopaedics, bone biopsy, regional anaesthesia and rheumatology."
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