Researchers have developed a new surgical tool that uses low-frequency intravascular ultrasound to break down blood clots that cause deep vein thrombosis. The tool is the first ultrasound “drill” that can be aimed straight ahead, allowing doctors to better target clots — which holds promise for significantly reducing treatment time.
“Our new ultrasound tool is forward-facing, like a drill, but still breaks down clots into very fine particles,” says Xiaoning Jiang, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State. “Our approach improves accuracy without relying on high doses of blood thinners, which we hope will reduce risks across the board.”
The tool incorporates an injection tube that allows users to inject microbubbles at the site of the clot, making the ultrasound waves more effective at breaking down the clot. The researchers tested a prototype of the device in a synthetic blood vessel using cow’s blood.
The device dissolved 90 percent of a clot in 3.5 to 4 hours without using any blood thinners.
The researchers have filed a patent on the technology and are interested in working with industry partners to help develop the device.