Doctors often avoid operating on brain blood clots due to their tricky location and the risk of causing collateral damage. The robot, however, needs only a small opening to do its work. It can be guided by ultrasound or CT imaging to the targeted spot in the brain where it sucks out the clot. The needle extends like a telescope and is curved to navigate bends.
The steerable needles have been in development at Vanderbilt for several years, with a team of both engineers and physicians working on the project. Originally, the system was designed to reach brain tumors, but the team realized it could be effective for clots as well.
The robot is in prototype form. The researchers have been testing the technology on fake clots using gelatin models. The ultimate goal is to get the machine into the hands of neurosurgeons to reduce the mortality rate from intracerebral hemorrhages.
Check out the video to see the "clotbot" in action on a model brain.