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Robotic device inserts intravenous line needles


September 3, 2013

Some of the research team, with the SAGIV prototype

Some of the research team, with the SAGIV prototype

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Although the administering of fluids to patients via an intravenous (IV) line may be commonplace, what many people may not realize is that getting the needle into a vein can be quite a tricky process – often several failed attempts are required before success is achieved. That’s why a group of students and staff from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a robotic gadget to do the job.

The handheld device, known as SAGIV, uses infrared light and electrical sensing to detect the presence of veins beneath the patient’s skin. A display on a linked computer shows those veins, along with the tip of the needle. The user just lines the one up with the other, then SAGIV quickly and accurately inserts the needle to which the IV line is subsequently attached.

The technology is being developed with children strongly in mind, as they can be particularly upset by the discomfort of getting needles. Already, SAGIV has been successfully tested in the pediatric ward of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. According to the team’s clinical expert, Dr. Yotam Almagor, "Children that used to be pricked numerous times in every visit can now be connected in a single attempt."

In its current prototype form, which can be seen in the video below, SAGIV is still rather bulky. Down the road, however, it may be developed into a much smaller, sleeker device that has its own built-in screen.

Source: Hebrew University of Jerusalem

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I remember experiencing the horror of my first I.V. procedure at the age 7, in relation to surgery for a hernia in war time Glasgow, when nurses were amazed at the ability of my veins to detect the needle point and jump out of the way. My need of this procedure continues until today, 70 years later. Surgeons in the UK, Germany, the US and NZ have treated me for rheumatic fever and various other debilitating conditions - providing 4 innovative heart valve replacements and more recently I've suffered Multiple Organ Failure, a stroke and various life-threatening infections. These all call for "blood work." One unfortunate operative had to chase my wriggling veins 17 times before connecting! Needless to say, I wish the developers of this new process every success!

Gordon McShean

Children who fear needles are probably also going to fear a robot with needles, although I hope the finished product doesn't look like that torture device in Star Wars that flew into Leia's cell. I'm assuming it will look more like a big Gameboy with the needle hidden underneath.

Maybe they could make the screen look and act like a video game to distract the kid. And to make it fun for the nurses!

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