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The implantable plastic clip allows post-surgical checkups via MRI and CT scans, which is not possible with currently used metal devices.

PlasticsToday Staff

November 22, 2016

2 Min Read
Plastic clip advances treatment of aneurysms

A plastic clip developed by Neos Surgery (Barcelona, Spain), in partnership with Advanced Engineering & Technologies GmbH and Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe GmbH, both located in Kaiserslautern, Germany, represents a marked improvement over metal clips that are currently used to treat aneurysms. Specifically, the plastic clip allows post-surgical checkups via magnetic resonance imaging  (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans, which is not possible when a metal device is used. The technology was developed through the European Union’s Eureka Eurostars program, which funded R&D with €1.2 million ($1.23 million).

The cause of aneurysms, and why some bleed and others don’t, remains cloaked in mystery. “Sometimes, for reasons which aren’t always clear, there might be a weak or dented point in the arteries (or walls) of blood vessels,” explains Ana Rodríguez Alonso, R&D Project Manager at Neos Surgery. “This dent can become filled with blood and then trapped, a bit like the way air gets trapped in a balloon. If this eventually bursts, it can lead to life-threatening blood hemorrhaging in the brain. This is how aneurysms work,” says Alonso.

The current procedure for treating an aneurysm involves implanting a metal clip that acts a bit like a clothes peg. “It clamps the aneurysm shut so that no more blood can enter, and gradually empties the build-up of blood in the artery, removing the threat of a burst,” says Alonso. It gets complicated, however, if the surgeon wants to check on the status of the implanted device.

Normally, a standard MRI and CT scan would quickly confirm whether or not the clip is doing its job, but this is not possible when a metal implant is used.

Alternatively, an angiogram can be performed on the patient, but this is an intensive and potentially risky procedure that involves injecting a tube through the patient’s skin, says Neos Surgery.

Through the EU-funded Innoclip project, a carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer aneurysm clip was developed. Image courtesy project partner Institut für Verbundwerkstoffe.

“Our goal from the beginning with the InnoClip project was to make a plastic clip of composite polymeric materials [to enable monitoring] by basic scans. In some cases, identifying problems quickly in this way could be the difference between life and death,” Alonso says.

A prototype clip is currently being manufactured and tested. Earlier this year, Neos Surgery and its partners received the JEC World 2016 Innovation Award in Paris in recognition of the breakthrough potential of the device.

The next step, says the company, is to get the product on the market and, importantly, convince surgeons to begin using it. “They are naturally very cautious of changing because they need to be absolutely sure the product is reliable. But the funding from this project has already given our reputation a huge boost,” says Alonso.

Neos Surgery is currently negotiating with manufacturers and distributors of the well-established metallic clips, who might potentially begin to market the new plastic clip. 

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