Student Design Projects

The student design project is performed over two semesters. The term "project” is used rather than "thesis" because groups of students generally collaborate on the project, the project can be industrially sponsored, and the project may continue from year-to-year with an evolving group of students. The common sources of projects are the BME faculty, industrial colleagues, and clinicians in the medical and veterinary colleges. The character of different projects is highly variable, e.g., a project might be primarily a theoretical study (e.g., aerodynamics of a neonatal respirator) or might be primarily a laboratory experiment (e.g., tissue engineering of an intervertebral disc).

Student Team Design Projects

The following is a sampling of recent student team design projects:

Adaptive Neuromuscular Scoliosis Brace

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While it outwardly appears that the scoliosis market is inundated with a plethora of orthotic solutions, there has been little advancement focused on addressing additional needs for indications of neuromuscular scoliosis. Even more specifically, there are a range of specific needs that come with comorbidities such as Ohtahara Syndrome, which braces for idiopathic scoliosis fail to address. Important considerations can include the lack of verbal feedback, variability in implementation of the brace due to various caretakers, greater usability needed, lack of movement lending to pressure sores, and most fundamentally the fact that these individuals do not have the ability to hold themselves upright without the brace. Therefore, the scanning process itself is the foundation for the quality of the solution. The traditional plaster molding method introduces an amalgam of difficulties for these patients including the mess, time requirement, and lack of reliable shaping. Direct 3D scanning poses other issues in terms of sensitivity to slight movements (e.g. breathing) and the need to have complete 360-degree access over a significant period of time. Both of these have been described to us as “nightmare” experiences by our sponsoring local family. Hence, Team Haleigh’s approach has been centered around improving the fabrication process. To accomplish this, our team has utilized Cornell patented technology to form a vacuum induced interlocking granule vest device as the primary step of the Jane Grain Scan™ process. This vest compartments immediately take the shape of the torso and remain rigid upon vacuum initiation. They are then scanned with the cutting edge 3D Systems Sense 3D scanner, and the raw data is uploaded to CAD software and modified to create a CNC manufactured mold. The final brace backing is vacuum pulled to fit this custom mold. The final brace solution utilizes a strong yet lightweight carbon fiber-resin composite with fenestrations for breathability, open cell padding, and improved removable straps (that allow ease of cleaning, repeatability in application, as well as greater adjustability). Additionally, the brace utilizes interchangeable seamless fabric linings stretched and attached to the exterior of the brace backing, to prohibit uncomfortable seams, allow for seasonal fabric changes, create ease in cleaning, and to eliminate the need for patients to wear an undershirt that can get easily misaligned. The end product is a sleek, lightweight, breathable, more durable, cleanable, and more user-friendly brace that complements the enhanced patient-experience of our unique process that is tailored towards neuromuscular indications. Moreover, this platform technology has the potential to transform and greatly improve the current bracing standard for a wide array of applications, and could likely improve the quality of life for individuals in need of more personalized orthotic solutions.

Systemic Hydration Status and Tear Osmolarity

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Dehydration is an excessive loss of water from bodily tissues accompanied by an imbalance of sodium, potassium, chloride, and other electrolytes. It can occur whenever fluids are lost and are not adequately replaced. Studies show that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated and it’s even more prevalent among athletes, who exert more energy daily. Most dehydration monitoring systems for the everyday user or athlete are inaccurate or currently not available on the market. In addition, dehydration monitoring devices currently in hospitals are bulky, impractical, intimidating, and expensive. The aim of this project is to develop a dehydration diagnostic device that can be used easily and accurately without specialized training by the average person as a way to monitor and diagnose acute and chronic dehydration. i-Water is designed to measure tear and saliva conductivity. This measurement can then be imputed into the i-Water mobile application, which returns the corresponding hydration level. The app is also capable of saving this data for users to access at a later time, and also provides information about dehydration for user education. The i-Water is designed to be user-friendly, non-invasive, cheap, safe, and effective, making it more advantageous than other dehydration monitoring devices. This device has demonstrated that it is possible for the everyday user to measure systemic hydration in a safe and accurate manner.
 

Disrupting the process of Corneal Recovery and Transplantation

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The cornea recovery process is a multibillion dollar industry with 134,000 corneas procured per annum. The current recovery process is time consuming (a cornea takes 30 minutes to procure), technically challenging (requiring in excess of seven tools), and often results in irreparable damage to the corneas underlying layers (the Descemet membrane) reducing the viability rate of procurement. The procurement process is thus ripe for technological disruption and innovation. A sonically vibrating punch device has the potential to improve the recovery process by allowing for a single tool to create an excised cornea within seconds that is the final diameter for surgical use immediately after extraction. We demonstrated that a sonically vibrating punch could penetrate through the entire cornea by utilizing a circular trephine blade that was excited to resonance near the sonic frequency range allowing for the blade to have reduced contact friction with the cornea and for it to more effectively cut through the thick cornea layers.
 

Implantable-Reusable Brain Drug Delivery Interface

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In order to improve quality of treatment of pediatric brain cancer patients, our team has designed a neurovascular drug port to interface with existing brain catheters. For patients with diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG), prognosis is poor, with 100% mortality. DIPG affects predominantly children, aged 5-10. The current treatment for DIPG is an invasive neurosurgery to place a catheter at the tumor site and deliver chemotherapeutic treatment over the course of hours. After infusion, the patient must have the catheter removed and have the wound sealed. Each additional dose requires an additional neurosurgery, equally as intensive and stressful for the patient. In order to decrease the the patient spends in the operating room and reduce the number of surgeries they must undergo, we have designed an implantable drug port to interface with the currently used catheter to allow for repeated infusion without surgery. Our port design allows for transdermal delivery, administered by a nurse or doctor, allowing for patients to recover from surgery and potentially leave the hospital. The port, made from a combination of stainless steel, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, and implantable-grade silicone, accommodates the low volume dosage used for brain tissue infusion. In order to allow for such low flow rates, as low as 1 microliter per hour, the design guides the clinician’s needle into an annular space, which directs flow into the infusion line. The stainless-steel needle-guiding funnel allows for clinicians to consistently locate the flow chamber and prevents backflow of drug solution throughout the infusion time. Our device is capable of providing low flow, high pressure delivery of chemotherapy drug, in accordance with the standard treatment of convection-enhanced delivery, and promises to vastly improve the quality of treatment received by pediatric patients with DIPG.
 

Aiding in the Minimally Invasive Neurosurgical Treatment of Subdural Hematomas

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A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood between the inner dura and skull. This occurs mostly in the elderly population and people who have endured a traumatic brain injury. A common postoperative complication associated with the evacuation of a subdural hematoma is pneumocephalus, the presence of air within the cranial cavity. This occurs because in the standard treatment of subdural hematomas a large section of bone is removed from the skull. When air becomes trapped within the cranial cavity it can cause an increase in intracranial pressure, causing compression of the brain, which can result in the reoccurance of a subdural hematoma, damage of tissue, and loss of brain function. In order to minimize the risk pneumocephalus, we aimed to design a closing mechanism for this neurosurgery. In collaboration with Dr. Benjamin Rapoport and Dr. Jared Knopeman of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Department of Neurosurgery, we have developed the Brain Grommet, a novel beveled shaped plug designed to aid in the minimally invasive neurosurgical treatment of subdural hematomas. The Brain Grommet is designed to sit on the skull’s surface during the surgery in order to minimize the introduction of air to the cranial cavity. The Brain Grommet’s unique duck-bill valve allows for an endoscope and drainage tubing to enter the cranial cavity, but when these tools are removed, the duck-bill valve returns to a closed position because of its self-closing mechanism, thereby minimizing the risk of pneumocephalus.
 

Device Capable of Navigating to and Sampling Brain Lesions

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The BrainLander device navigates to regions demonstrating cancerous tissue growth following primary tumor resection in the brain and obtains samples that can be extracted minimally invasively. The sampling method used by this device also mitigates the risk of blood vessel rupture through the use of proprietary vascular sensing. This device eliminates the need for additional invasive procedures, while also increasing the frequency of biopsy sampling and analysis. The overall goal of this device is to provide a low-risk method to perform frequent biopsies to help improve patient outcomes.  

Diagnose, Evaluate, and Treat Functional Muscle Pain

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Between 1997 and 2005, the cost of treating back and neck pain went up $34 billion to a value of $86 billion. Even with this steep increase in treatment for back and neck pain, 25% more patients were impaired or disabled. How can we be spending more money but our patients are getting worse? The community standard for pain treatment ignores the prevalence of muscles causing the chronic pain, but Dr. Marcus’s Team of Engineers is ready to address these muscles and provide better patient outcomes. We have designed a device called the Noci-Stim, capable of detecting specific muscles that are causing the body chronic pain to help clinicians correctly identify and treat the sources of pain. Our device is not only a diagnostic device, but it is also an educational device; we have provided a program to help clinicians reacquaint themselves with the anatomy they haven’t memorized since their time in medical school. The Noci-Stim and Noci-Stim Software empowers clinicians and the public to have a greater appreciation for the soft tissue that may be the cause of the pain, and prevents surgeries that aren’t necessary and nerve blocks that won’t work. We are disrupting the pain treatment market to improve quality of life and provide better patient outcomes.  

An Ex-vivo Testing Platform for Cardiac Valve Devices

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We’ve created a platform to test device-based solutions for mitral valve disease. The system pumps fluid into the apex of the left ventricle. The fluid then passes through the aortic valve, into a chamber called the systemic impedance simulator. This is a pressurized cylinder that mimics the physiological resistance of the canine vasculature. From there, the fluid passes through an accumulator and into the left atrium. The fluid then passes through the mitral valve and back into the pump, and the process repeats itself.

Challenges in Canine/Feline Physiological Monitoring

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Blood pressure in veterinary care is a diagnostic tool that is underutilized due to limitations of technology and animal factors. Through surveys distributed to American veterinarians both local to Cornell and across the country it was determined that 52% of surveyed veterinarians utilize doppler based technology to measure blood pressure if they do at all, with many professionals stating that blood pressure is often left unmeasured due to difficulty in obtaining accurate values. Current methodologies to measure blood pressure in cats and dogs have limitations. Doppler technology, an ultrasound based method used to listen to the movement of the artery wall during cuff application, is heavily subjected to technician error and movement, with many veterinarians left unsatisfied by its ease of use. However despite this, it is used over traditional oscillometric methods as current technology is not accurate on small animals, and tends to be less accurate than skilled technicians with doppler. The goals of this project were to determine the real needs of veterinary care in terms of blood pressure measurement, and determine an appropriate way to evaluate the accuracy of future oscillometric devices. To create an appropriate reference device for comparison, a doppler device with a stabilizer clip has been developed in order to reduce the difficulty of use and increase accuracy. This device is intended to be used alongside with a set of criteria for clinical investigation, adapted from the AAMI standards for human subjects.

The Color Vision Diagnostic Tool

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There is a need to develop a diagnostic tool for color vision deficiencies in children as young as 4 years old. Common diagnostic tools, such as the Ishihara Test, require identification of specific numbers. Determining color blindness in preliterate children using this test is difficult, especially if the child cannot reliably identify the numbers in the images. The Color Vision Diagnostic Tool, or CVDT, developed by engineers at Cornell University, eliminates the issues caused by other types of diagnostic color vision tests. The CVDT eliminates the need for users to identify specific numbers, making it an ideal diagnostic tool for all age groups. The CVDT utilizes a monitor fitted with TOBII eye-tracking technology to record the user’s gaze position on the monitor screen. During a diagnostic session, the user is seated in front of the monitor. Next, the user views the CVDT animation, which utilizes a diagnostic color palette using Ishihara plates and the CIE Chromaticity Diagram. The colors displayed by the monitor are calibrated by the Display Pro calibration tool to ensure the exact color. During the animation viewing period, the gaze position of the user on the monitor screen is compared against the position of the moving shape in the animation. Utilizing a propriety algorithm, the shape recognition accuracy of the user is assessed and a corresponding color vision diagnosis is displayed onscreen. The entire CVDT system is housed within a curtained booth to block glare and reduce outside stimulus. In preliminary tests, appropriate diagnoses based on shape recognition accuracy were produced for individuals with and without color vision deficiencies.  Preliminary analysis has demonstrated that the CVDT shows promise as a color vision deficiency diagnostic tool for use for all age groups by eliminating the need to identify numbers or shapes.
 

Challenges in Minimally Invasive Surgery

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Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) promotes the concept of doctors utilizing varying techniques to perform operations that are less physically damaging than open surgery on patients. This results in MIS associated with less complications, less pain, and an overall shorter hospital stay. Despite the fact that MIS appears like a superior alternative to open surgery, there is always room for improvement. An overarching issue within recent years is the addiction to medication that can occur after surgery. An MIS procedure of particular interest is Cholecystectomy, or the surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder. With knowing that more than 1.2 million cholecystectomies occur each year in the United States, the goal of this project is to reduce post-operative pain from Cholecystectomy. Our proposed solution is through an analgesic device named DyniaTech. This works via electrical stimulation utilizing PENS technology, thermal stimulation, and vibration therapy in order to reduce the usage of prescribed narcotics to avoid addiction. In acknowledging that 40% of opioid overdose related deaths are due to prescription opioids, our vision for DyniaTech is to provide a safer route to recovery for patients suffering from post-operative pain.
 

Pediatric Craniometric Analysis

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We are creating a low-cost, easy to use craniometry device and digital imaging application to detect and monitor pediatric skull shape abnormalities in low-resource settings. Skull shape abnormalities in pediatric patients are prevalent across the world, with 1/1000 babies born with hydrocephalus and 1/2500 babies born with craniosynostosis worldwide. When identified early at routine pediatric primary care visits, patients are referred to neurosurgery for treatment and recover to live normal lives. However, when left untreated the brain does not have enough room to grow inside the skull, resulting in increased intracranial pressure that can lead to developmental delays, cognitive impairment, blindness, seizure disorders, or even death. With our craniometry device and application combination, pediatric patients in developing parts of the world gain access to a critical function of routine primary care and can be directed to neurosurgery before the effects of skull shape abnormalities manifest as lifelong impacts.

Preventing Newborn Hypothermia in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs)

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Each year, over 1 million preterm babies will never get to see their first birthday. This is especially prevalent in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) that account for 98% of all newborn deaths globally. While these deaths are a result of numerous health complications, one that can be prevented is newborn hypothermia. When hypothermia occurs, the body loses heat faster than it is able to produce heat, resulting in dangerously low body temperatures that range from less than 1 °C to greater than 5 °C below a normal body temperature. While many developed countries have access to devices such as radiant warmers and incubators to successfully combat this problem, these devices are expensive, require extensive training, and utilize electricity that is often unavailable in the rural areas of LMICs where the population has little access to hospitals. The ThermoShell, therefore, utilizes 2 pounds of a phase change material that can store energy when placed in a pot of boiling water. Upon heating, the ThermoShell can increase the newborn’s core temperature from a hypothermic state to a normal body temperature in about 10 minutes, and can maintain this temperature throughout the body for over an hour. In addition, the ThermoShell includes safety features such as temperature sensitive indicators that change color to alert when the device needs to be reheated, as well as when the newborn’s body temperature falls above or below a healthy body temperature. The ThermoShell provides a safe and effective solution to newborn hypothermia in LMICs that will put a mother’s mind at ease because the difference between living and dying should not be a little bit of warmth.
 

A Novel Universal Smart Syringe for Real-Time Bioprinting Applications

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Bioprinting is an emerging field intended to advance personalized medicine. However, one hurdle to its widespread clinical use is regulatory clearance. Recently, to address this challenge, combinatorial bioprinters have been on the rise as a means of assessing the quality of printed tissue. Our proposed Smart Syringe goes one step further by measuring cell viability without the use of exogenous markers, while also improving the quality and consistency of printed biomaterials. Our approach leverages the use of a water-cooled jacket to maintain the optimal temperature for collagen bioprinting, a soft magnetic stirrer to achieve homogeneous bioinks in 70% less time than standard processes, and a single-fluorescent reflectance system to measure NADH autofluorescence, an intrinsic marker linked to cell viability. The result is a device that minimizes risks of premature collagen crosslinking, inhomogeneity and biomaterial wastage without compromising the sterility of the syringe or requiring the use of a specific 3D printer.  

Detecting and Tracking Human Eating Behavior

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Our project is based on high-tech biosensor and state-of-the-art machine learning techniques. We made a wearable watch-like sensor to collect digital data and built a video system to track hands. The sensor is connected with LabVIEW software, so we can get awesome visualization. The hands detection system is built on SSD (Single-Shot-Detector) with MobileNet, whose good performance is demonstrated by so many researches. What’s more, the MobileNet is almost the best model which trade-off the size of model and the ability of model. In comparison with other great models, such as YOLO and Faster R-CNN, it cost a little of ability to reduce the model size, which means it has a huge potential of mobile application. Our final goal is developing a system of mobile application and wearable sensor to detect human eating behaviors.  
 

Challenges in Vascular Surgery

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The ThermoPress B is a novel medical device that provides both patient warming (normothermia maintenance) and sequential compression in one device. Patient warming devices are a necessity in almost all surgical scenarios involving anesthesia, and sequential compression devices are commonly used in the same surgical scenarios for patients at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in the legs. Beyond offering both functions in one device, the ThermoPress B also adds great value relative to the competition by utilizing a “closed loop” architecture, eliminating the exhaustion of air into the surgical environment, which provides a major selling point that should aid in quick adoption of our product. With the power of excellent engineering, sound understanding of the healthcare need, and a large and easy-entry market, the possibilities for ThermoPress B are both imminently real, and seemingly limitless. 
 

Heart Valve Bioreactor

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Heart valve disease is a worldwide burden - affecting more than 5 million adults annually in the US. In particular, rheumatic valve disease affects predominantly children and young adults, with 15 million cases per year worldwide. Our team developed a heart valve bioreactor for laboratories, companies and hospitals to culture and condition tissue engineered or ex vivo heart valves for patients of all ages. Current mechanical and bioprosthetic substitutes are associated with post-surgical complications and limited life expectancies. These treatments also lack the capability of in vivo growth, thus requiring multiple re-operations in pediatric patients. Our solution is to implement 3D-printed heart valves using patient-specific cells. However, tissue engineered requires mechanical stimulation to achieve a mature form prior to implantation. Our product provides a systematic way to condition 3D-printed heart valves to mimic the physiological environment of the heart. Our Heart Valve Bioreactor provides a novel way to replicate both aortic and pulmonary pressure ranges for adults and pediatric patients, hence increasing the quality of valve treatments to extend and improve patients’ lives. 

Development of an Implantable Pump System for Companion Animals

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The 83 million dogs and 95 million cats owned in the United States contribute to the global animal health market that is expected to exceed $33 billion by 2020.  End-of-life pain management for companion animals with chronic cancer and osteoarthritis-related pain makes up 9% of this market. There is currently no device for long-term management of these conditions.  Our proposed solution is a wirelessly programmable implant that delivers low volume, high accuracy boluses of analgesic drug over a 3-month time period.  

Improvement of Blood Purification for Severe Malaria

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Malaria is a disease spread by mosquitoes that causes a flu-like illness and affects many in developing countries. In 2016 alone, 216 million cases of malaria were reported with 90% occuring in sub-saharan Africa. In some individuals, the disease progresses to its life threatening stage called severe or complicated malaria. Current treatments for malaria include oral or intravenous administration of antimalarial drugs, such as quinine and artemisinin. However, these drugs are expensive, can be toxic in incorrect doses, and are challenged by growing drug resistance. Because of the limitations of current treatments, there is an immense need for a treatment option that ameliorates parasitemia in severe malaria patients. We propose a solution that exploits the paramagnetic properties induced in red blood cells following malaria infection. This system has potential to be used for high throughput purification of malaria infected blood. We were tasked with functionalizing this technology for deployment in clinics insub-Saharan Africa. Over the past few months, we designed a final prototype that includes a simple interface that allows medical practitioners to easily view and manipulate treatment parameters, fail-safe mechanisms to prevent treatment complications, solar battery chargers to avoid issues caused by power surges, and a rugged enclosure that protects the device components from contamination, extreme temperatures, and humidity. By keeping the manufacturing cost under $350, this solution is more cost-effective than current malaria treatments.

Breast Palpation Aid for At-Home Use

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It is estimated that one in every eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer over thecourse of their lifetime (“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics”, 2019). Upon diagnosis, neoadjuvant therapy, such as radiation, hormone, or chemotherapy, is often administered as a first line of treatment to shrink the tumor in size prior to surgical removal (Snowden et al., 2012). Imaging is typically done at the beginning and end of the treatment cycle but not during. There is currently a need for a convenient at-home device for the purpose of imaging tumors over the course of neoadjuvant therapy treatment.  Information about the tumor size, location, and density can be utilized to assess the effectiveness of different treatments and thus aid in the decision-making process of the doctors. Our device consists of an elastomeric lens which deforms accordingly whenpassed over a tumor embedded within breast tissue and can therefore be used to differentiate subcutaneous structures. Additionally, the device has an internal camera to take the images. Computer vision software is utilized to quantify the size and location of the tumor. The final product is envisioned to have a corresponding phone application with the capability to send the captured data directly to the patient’s doctors. The physicians will ultimately have access to more information to monitor any changesoccurring to the tumor and be able to assess the effectiveness of the current treatment.

Implantable/Reusable Brain Drug Delivery Device for Neuro-Oncology

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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a highly fatal pediatric brain tumor, with only a 2% five-year survival rate. The current standard treatment, radiation therapy, improves symptoms temporarily, but 
does not have a major impact on survival rates. Chemotherapeutic drug treatments would likely be more effective, but drug delivery to the brain is severely limited by the presence of the blood brain barrier, which blocks molecular transport to protect the brain. The current treatment method in clinical trials is convection enhanced delivery, which involves administering drug directly to the tumor. This typically requires invasive surgeries for each treatment, which increases the risk for complications and reduces the patient’s quality of life. Therefore, we propose a pneumatic-driven, implantable, reusable brain drug delivery interface, which would only require an initial implantation surgery. Our device is implanted subcutaneously, with two separate inlet ports: one for drug, and one for air to drive the drug out. The outlet port is connected to a specialized catheter going to the tumor. Flow is generated by inflating a small balloon within the device, so that the flow rate is tunable. One of the key advantages of our device is that is MRI compatible, so it won’t impact monitoring of the tumor. Because there is no true competitor to our device on the market currently, we believe we can sell this product to a large percentage of patients with DIPG. In addition, the device has potential uses beyond DIPG and could be a tool for treating various gliomas, pediatric or otherwise.
 

Early Detection of Chronic Podiatric Ulcers in Diabetic Patients

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Changes in diet and lifestyle contribute to the drastic rise in the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus from 30 million in 1985 to over 400 million in 2014.Diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) are the primary cause of diabetes-related hospitalization and the World Diabetes Foundation estimates that globally, a lower limb is amputated every 30 seconds due to a DFU.In addition to this physical and social burden for the patient, the average annual cost to treat a DFU is $8,659, resulting in a total yearly spending of over $10.9 billion in the United States alone. Even when treatment is successful, there is a 65% recurrence rate within 5 years in part because many patients do not continue to monitor their feet, allowing ulcers to progress unnoticed.Early detection of DFUs is an effective strategy for preventing amputation and improving patient quality of life. To that end, the objective of this project is to create a convenient home-monitoring system for recovering and high-risk patients. Several research studies have identified inflammation-induced temperature changes as an early sign of ulceration, with accurate prediction up to five weeks prior to clinical presentation. Our device contains a scanning system embedded in a slanted box that moves a temperature-sensing infrared camera along the bottom of the feet to produce a heat map of the foot. Our registration algorithm identifies regions of temperature variation greater than 2.2 ºC as areas of high risk and sends the information to their physician through a secure patient portal. A visual camera also photographs the bottom of their feet, giving the patient the option to inspect their feet, as most patients suffering from DFUs are elderly and have limited mobility to view their soles. The Plantaris system facilitates convenient monitoring of the feet to enable early detection of DFUs and obviate the needfor amputation. With this in-home device, we hope to make foot monitoring more accessible in an effort to ease the burden placed on diabetic patients across the world.

Minimally Invasive Endoscopic System for Subdural Hematoma Evacuation

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A subdural hematoma is a pool of blood beneath the dura layer, a membrane that covers the brain. Subdural hematomas affect more than 40,000 new patients every year and are the most common cause for neurosurgery. The most common way to treat subdural hematomas is through craniotomies which involve removal of a large area of the skull (usually upwards of 2.5 square inches), general anesthesia, and a long recovery time. Minimally invasive solutions such as burr hole surgeries exist and require the removal of a portion of the skull smaller than the size of a quarter. However, they do not allow for complete access to the intracranial compartment which leads to high recurrence rates. The lack of visualization during minimally invasive procedures prevents the verification of complete blood removal until postoperative imaging is performed. In addition, current methods of removal lead to pneumocephalus caused by air entering the brain at the end of the surgery. Pneumocephalus can causeneurological deterioration and increase the potential for venous blood to seep into the area and form another subdural hematoma. The goal of this project was to develop a minimally invasive port system compatible with endoscopes and surgical tools currently on the market and a sealing mechanism that would prevent air from entering the intracranial cavity.  Additionally, the port system had to be easy for surgeons to use and allow for a wide range of motion to ensure all the hematoma has been evacuated, even pockets of blood confined within separate membranes. After multiple validation tests, our final port system consisted of 6 components: drill bit, socket, insertion tool, ball, ball stabilizer, and lid. A beveled hole was drilled through the skull above the subdural hematoma with a customized drill bit with a 60-degree angled tip. The socket was then self-tapped into the hole using the insertion tool and a tap handle. The hollow ball was placed into the socket to create a ball and socket joint. Then, a surgical sheath was placed through the ball and into the skull. The sheath allowed for simultaneous visualization and blood removal using micro-scissors and a suction device. Once the ball was in the optimal location a ball stabilizer clipped into the socket to prevent unwanted movement. Finally, a lid with an airtight duckbill valve was inserted into the socket and a drainage tube was placed through the valve for 1-2 days until draining subsided. This product met its objectives of being minimally invasive, compatible with surgical equipment on the market, easy to use, and having a large range of motion and an airtight seal. This port system has the potential to reduce recurrence of subdural hematomas and moving forward a provisional patent will be filed.

Pulse oximeter for the Ear Lobe (to Combat the Opioid Crisis)

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Millions of Americans are prescribed opioids to combat chronic or iatrogenic pain every year. The rise of opioid prescriptions in the past few decades have led to a nationwide opioid epidemic, with 11.4 million Americans reporting to have misused prescription opioids in 2017 and over 130 individuals dying from opioid overdose every day. Research has shown thatdepressed peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) levels are the most accurate diagnosis of opioid overdose. PEARL (Pulse oximeter for the EAR Lobe) is a discrete and wireless device specifically designed to continuously monitor the SpO2 levels of patients prescribed opioids. Our device consists of a pulse oximeter chip attached to the ear lobe which will measure SpO2 levels once every few minutes. If critically low SpO2 levels are detected, PEARL sends an alert through our supporting app on the patients’ phone to contact emergency services. This ensures that necessary medical personnel will be notified in a timely manner. Our device is unique in that the pulse oximeter is designed to mimic an earring or hearing aid and can be modified and personalized to blend seamlessly into a user’s daily activities. PEARL is engineered with the intent of decreasing mortality rates for patients prescribed opioids by providing a reliable and systematic alert system for patients, caretakers, and health care providers.

Individual design projects examples:

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  • “Multivalent Virus-like Particles as a Vaccine Candidate for Protection Against Nipah, Hendra and Ebola Virus.”
  • “Characterization and Analysis of Circulating Cell-Free DNA in Peritoneal Dialysis Fluid in Peritonitis Patients and its Diagnostic Applications.”
  • “Understanding the Evolution of TFAP Enhancers and Their Role in Neural Crest Development.”
  • “A Novel Methodology for Selectively Degrading the Extracellular Matrix.”
  • “Tunable Acoustic Lens Performance Measurement.”
  • “Deep Learning Based Segmentation with Few Labeled Images.”
  • “Electrospinning and Characterization of Vascular Grafts with PCL Fibers of Different Sizes.” 
  • “Temperature Responsive Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) Skin ECM Hydrogel for Treating Chronic Wounds.” 
  • “Bacterial Interactions with the Immune System.”