In 2000, Tal Golesworthy, a British engineer, was told that he suffers from Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue that often causes rupturing of the aorta. The only solution then available was the pairing of a mechanical valve and a highly risky blood thinner. To an engineer like Golesworthy, that just wasn't good enough. So he constructed his own implant that does the job better than the existing solution--and became the first patient to try it.
The existing fix, called the Bentall surgery, requires a five-hour invasive slice-and-dice and a heart-lung bypass, after which the damaged part of the aorta is cut out and replaced with a graft and mechanical valve. But Golesworthy saw an opportunity instead of despair: Nobody had thought to use more modern technologies, namely combining MRI tests with computer-aided design tools and new rapid prototyping techniques. Golesworthy saw a chance to create an implant that would support itself and reduce the chance of blood clots, thus eliminating the need to take that dangerous blood thinner.
In two years of work, Golesworthy discovered that the hardest part of creating this new implant wasn't the actual design or construction--it was securing reliable measurements. The movement of the heart and other organs made it so different perspectives yielded totally different measurements. Luckily, the team figured out that a scan at one specific point in the cardiac cycle gave them the dimensions they needed.
The final product is constructed of polyethylene terephthalate, a standard medical plastic, and weighs less than 5g. It can be sutured directly into place by a surgeon at relatively low cost. The results speak for themselves: Golesworthy was the first recipient of his own creation, and since then, 23 others have taken the plunge, with more on the waiting list. Golesworthy sees this as not just a victory for Marfan sufferers, but a message to the medical community: "They are all biologists and medics, and they need process engineers," he said. Golesworthy wants a greater collaboration amongst the medical community and engineers, who could see solutions the doctors and biologists can't. Hopefully the medical community is listening--he's his own proof, after all.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
1. This man is my hero.
2. It has to be scanned and redesigned for each patient, doesn't it? Or is it one-size-fits-all? It sounds like it could either be a *very* extensive process, or a really cheap fix.
The necessity to kill other people for the most part, I'd say.
Since we're throwing nonsense words together, myriad birdhouse fruitcake! So there!
thats why rapid prototyping is so usefull
scan the heart to get the dimensions plug them into the prototyper and in less then a day you have the new part.
each one designed for that specific person.
@OpaqueShadow: it's what we use tools for that makes us who we are, I could kill someone and live the rest of my life in peace simply because I chose to save someone by doing so.
making weapons isn't just about the necessity to kill, it's more about the necessity to stop killers. take a life, save a few, that, to me at least, is honorable.
to what measurement is a life? by the strings attached to it, what they stood for? how about who they knew? everyone has at one point had a mother and a father, a family and friends, something that they believed in, and to take a life on a whim is selfish and disgusting, even if it's your own life.
But to sit on your butt and let that same life that I described take the lives of countless others is even worse. it isn't mercy, it isn't right, it isn't just at all, it's wrong.
weapons aren't about killing, they're about protection, protecting the weak from the malicious. that is what weapons are for, that is what true peace is.
as for the article, hallelujah, the mysteries to surgical medicine have taken their first steps to being solved and the maker community gains a new hero!
@Dirk Mcbratney They mentioned he is combining the 3D imaging ability of the MRI scan with rapid prototyping. Sounds like they take the 3D model of the body part in danger and send it to a 3D printer. If they refine their methods the whole process could take 30 minutes and cost very little.
I'd think you could put a taper on the ends and have it trimable for anyone. Plus, PET is recyclable ;) But what do I know I work for an ENT company.
Hooray for the UK! On this, anyway. Here, the engineer would be dead waiting for approval to save his own life. And then never be hailed as any sort of decent citizen, ala Jarvik, creator of the Jarvik artificial heart, who's level of understanding is and was apparently so much less advanced than any young intern on the day they are offered a residency. Yet for some reason, none of our myriads of registered, licensed PhD's could pull off the feat with their supposedly higher level of understanding. Why was his work beside renowned and highly specialized doctors not considered every bit as significant as young interns who often work alongside doctors who's level of specialized understanding is possibly not as advanced? What was it about him that we had to make a pariah of him? In point of fact, DOCTOR Jarvik is, and has been, an M.D. for more than three decades. Mr. Golesworthy is very fortunate to live in a land that sees through convention to honor results; and as an American, I surprise myself by saying that.
Isn't this a simpler version of what Iron Man did?
I ventured to the original site and saw the small clip of the object itself, but what I wonder is if this valve is completely hallow or if there are some internal components to it as well (if so, some pictures of the cutaway from the website would be neat). I imagine that since it has a perpetual blood thinner that it would have some internal device of some sort.
This link gives a picture and a lot more details.
The device is simply a knitted sleeve that is stitched together around the aorta. Tal had his done five years ago and is still well.
Further to my comment above, I had a 7cm diameter embolism develop on my aorta. This was lower than in Tal's case and the procedure used for me probably can't be applied for cases like his.
I had a stent inserted through the artery at my groin and threaded up the artery into position. The stent is knitted fabric with a coating to prevent blood clotting and attached at the top by a number of metal hooks that dig into the side of the artery to hold it in place.
As an engineer it was not clear to me how this would reduce the pressure on the bulge, but I was persuaded by other case records to try it. At least my chest would not have to be opened up. Four years later, the last CAT scan showed the bulge had reduced to 3 cm diameter. The operation was performed by Dr. Uribe at the Lankenau Hospital PA.
Wow. What this guy did is pretty amazing. We need more people like him in the world.