21st Century Leeches

Wow, since I’m a heart patient, I like this new one from NewScientist.com:

A device that sounds like a 21st-century version of a medicinal leech may soon be set loose inside the chests of heart patients. Resembling a robotic caterpillar, it will crawl across the surface of their beating heart, delivering treatment without the need for major surgery.

Physicians used leeches from the ancient Egyptians to the early 20th century. It was a nasty process which usually killed the patient more than it cured. Fascinating read.

Creepy-crawly robot to mend a broken heart

8 responses

  1. I have an eight-ten inch scar the length of my breast bone from where the surgeon split me open and cracked said bone to do his work. If this robotic leech pans out, maybe the next time if I have heart surgery, they won’t have to gut me like a fish.

    Ok, too much information.

  2. So amazing! Technology is so mindblowing.

  3. Awesome!
    But with this incredible treatment comes the preceeding testing on animals, pigs and young dogs at the top of the list, that dims my joy in medical advances.
    I didn’t see any mention of when this device might be ready for human testing. Did I miss it?

  4. No dogs, Mirth. No dogs. I draw the line at harming dogs in anyway. No, no, no!

  5. I didn’t read anything about animals being used to experiment on with these robots guys.

    *Retraction: The above statement is incorrect, there were live animals used in the study; In tests on live pigs, the HeartLander has fitted pacemaker leads and injected dye into the heart.

    Thanks to Mirth of Liberally Mirth, I guess my old eyes were gettin’ tired toward the end of the day.

  6. Dad, from the article you cite in the post:

    “In tests on live pigs, the HeartLander has fitted pacemaker leads and injected dye into the heart.”

    Christopher, puppies are one of the preferred animals for medical experimentation.
    I did a post on this several months back and I couldn’t sleep for several nights afterwards.
    PETA can tell you all (and way too much) about the use of puppies in experimentation.

  7. Sorry Mirthy, I retracted the statement. I should read things more closely.

    In my own defense, I get kinda tired at the end of the day and the first thing to go is my vision, side effect of dilantin.

  8. *smile* for Dad.
    My problem is usually reading too fast. Commenters will write something and I wonder if we read the same article, then I go back and sure enough there is what they are mentioning.
    I’m surprised the pig testing was mentioned at all. It usually isn’t, but if it is, it’s a blank statement that tells nothing. We all want these medical advances, but the testing on animals is a practice that continues with such things as the animal is, for one, rarely given medication for pain because to do so might interfere with the test results. In most cases the animal is used until the experimentation kills it and then it is discarded for the next animal. Animals are used because it’s cheaper than what would be necessary for voluntary human experimentation. It is for profit and nothing else that animal testing continues. And the species doesn’t determine pain and suffering. A pig, usually very young, suffers just as much as a cute puppy.

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