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SmartPuncture: This micropuncture needle confirms when it is inside a vessel

Team Members:
  • Autumn Hughes
  • Joy Lee
  • Min Jae Kim
  • Kevin Rao
  • Melina Papadakis
  • Edward Lo
  • Bobby Ni
  • Sayantika Roy
  • Pranoti Hiremath, MD
  • Nicholas Durr, PhD
  • Chun (Dan) Choi, MD
  • Henry Halperin, MD
  • Peter Johnston, MD
  • Jon Resar, MD
  • Emad Boctor, PhD
  • Rebecca Rosenberg


ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a form of cardiopulmonary bypass that oxygenates a patient’s blood and ensures adequate blood flow throughout the body in cases of cardiogenic shock or cardiac arrest. Patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest make up half of the 400,000 US cardiac arrest cases per year; furthermore, ECMO usage has tripled in the past four years and is expected to continue increasing. If patients are initiated on ECMO within 30 minutes of a cardiac arrest, they are six times more likely to survive than those initiated on standard treatments. To initiate ECMO, large bore cannulae are placed into the patient’s femoral vein and femoral artery. However, ECMO cannulation is technically challenging and may cause life-threatening bleeding and fatal vascular injury. We wish to help clinicians surmount these challenges such that they may successfully deliver life-saving ECMO therapies.

The first steps in cannulation involve locating the vessel and accessing it with a needle. Although ultrasound may be used to confirm that the needle is in the vessel, the needle can be difficult to track in a two-dimensional ultrasound image. Furthermore, in patients with cardiogenic shock and reduced vessel pulsatility, clinicians cannot reliably utilize blood return through the needle as a marker of vessel puncture. Our device will guide clinicians to entry of the needle inside the vessel, thereby decreasing the time and skill required in this critical maneuver. Accurate and rapid needle placement helps ensure successful, complication-free ECMO cannula insertion.

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