Engineers save lives

Scientists from Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg are working with partners from industry to develop new implants for patients with life-threatening vascular diseases. An interdisciplinary team of engineers and doctors is developing tiny tubes made of wire mesh that can be used to treat intracranial aneurysms, which are balloon-like bulges in blood vessels in the brain. The innovative tubes divert the blood around the aneurysm. These spiral-shaped stents or flow diverters made of fine mesh are inserted in the blood vessel below the bulge. This keeps the blood flowing past the aneurysm and reduces the risk of a rupture in the damaged blood vessel, which could put the patient’s life at risk. Aneurysms occur at weak points in the walls of blood vessels. They are either congenital or form during a person's lifetime and it is estimated that around one in every 20 people will suffer from one.

In the research project “Simulation-based optimization of flow diverters for the treatment of intracranial aneurysms” (SOFINA), which has received funding of 1.3 million euros from the German government, the researchers at the University of Magdeburg have formed a cross-disciplinary team and are working with Arcandis GmbH to create a new generation of flow diverters using computer models. They are also developing a software package for treatment planning that will optimize medical interventions. Another objective of the research team is to reduce the time taken for the damaged blood vessel, which is no longer used, to be closed off by a thrombus or blood clot that forms in the bulge as the blood coagulates.

“An aneurysm can be congenital or develop during the course of a person’s life,” said the clinical project manager, Professor Daniel Behme, who is head of interventional and preventive neuroradiology at University Hospital Magdeburg. “When an aneurysm in the head bursts, fewer than 50 percent of patients survive the bleed without brain damage. For this reason, we need to close the aneurysm before it tears.” However, Behme explains that a range of different complications can occur during the operation. “This is why it is so valuable to be able to simulate and practice a planned medical intervention in advance.” IT specialists at the university working under Professor Sylvia Saalfeld will use existing patient data to create 3D models of the individual aneurysm. Professor Daniel Juhre from the mechanical engineering department and Professor Gabor Janiga from the fluid dynamics department will then simulate the positioning of the stent and the modified, optimized blood flow.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing funding of 1.3 million euros for the SOFINA project between 2023 and 2026. It is a mediMESH GmbH model project. mediMESH is a spin-off from the Research Campus STIMULATE.


Source: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg