When surgeons replace part of a blood vessel to treat coronary heart disease such as blood clots or stroke damage, the implant is controlled through expensive and complex imaging or ultrasound techniques. Despite these efforts, between 40% and 50% of these grafts can fail.
This is why a team of materials science engineers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison set out to design a system that would solve this problem from within the patient’s own body. They have created a 3D-printed artificial artery with such a specific material and geometry that it can produce electrical pulses based on fluctuating blood pressure .
In this way, the researchers explain, the artery thus becomes a “sensor” that warns the medical team and the patient if something is not working well.
To create this new implant, the team combined sodium potassium niobite piezoceramic nanoparticles with a polyvinylidene fluoride polymer that has the ability to change its polarity when an electric field is applied to it. Nanotechnology applied to the world of health.
“This artificial container can produce electrical pulses depending on the pressure fluctuation, and thus the blood pressure can be accurately determined without using any additional power source,” explains Xudong Wang, project manager.
The irregular geometry achieved with 3D printing allows to determine if there is irregular movement. This allows the patient to be remotely monitored in real time .
Their work, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials , is the first step, they say, to even print artificial heart valves. The current ones are purely mechanical and need maintenance work, or come from human donations with the risk of rejection they cause.
The new valves they hope to achieve in Wisconsin would also have the ability to monitor the patient in real time without depending on post-intervention controls.