Ultrasound drill helps to break down blood clots

Recent years have seen a number of innovations to surgical tools and procedures, from 3D printing to virtual reality.  Now, a team from North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a tool that utilizes low-frequency, intravascular ultrasound to enable more effective break down of the kind of blood clots that are a common cause of deep vein thrombosis.

The tool, which is akin to an ultrasound drill, is believed to be the first of its kind, and can be aimed straight ahead, thus making it easier for doctors to target clots directly.

At the moment, the tools used to clear blood clots are only capable of emitting ultrasound waves laterally, which makes it much harder for surgeons to target clots specifically.


The tool uses an injection tube that injects microbubbles at the clot, with the team believing this approach makes the ultrasound more effective at breaking down the clot.

The method has currently been tested in a synthetic blood vessel using blood from a cow.  These tests showed that 90% of the clot could be dissolved in just 3.5 hours, without requiring the use of blood thinners.  This compares with the 10 hours it requires existing methods to do the same job, often with the use of blood thinners.

The next step is to try and secure funding to conduct further trials using an animal model.  They’ve already filed a patent for the technology and are actively seeking industry partners to help develop the tool further and bring it to market.