MIT STUDENT TEAM:
Every year approximately two thousand babies are born with pulmonary arteries so large that they impair the circulation of blood in the body. These oversized arteries must be reduced in size through a banding procedure requiring open-chest surgery. The diameter of the band must be repeatedly adjusted as a baby with this condition grows, and each adjustment requires major surgery. A team of students at MIT is seeking to improve upon the design of banding devices currently in use, and they have built a prototype that is easily adjustable and highly reliable. Their device reduces flow in the artery by flattening it from one side, and the flattening mechanism is actuated by two inflatable balloons attached to syringes controlled by a surgeon. A system of rods with interlocking teeth ensures that the flattening mechanism will not move if a balloon leaks or if another piece moves. If the device breaks, it will continue to hold its diameter but will cease to be adjustable. The students have built a 5:1 prototype, and their next step is to produce a smaller 2:1 device that could be used in animal trials. As the students implement their design at a smaller scale, they plan to be careful to avoid contaminants in the manufacturing process, and they also plan to study wear and tear on the small teeth within the device.
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