Dr. Glenn Atlas, Stevens Students, and MICRO Stamping Corp. Develop Innovative Medical Technology




   Story by Schaefer School of Engineering & Science

April 30, 2012

V-Scope is a new medical device to help doctors position a breathing tube

“The proper intubation of a patient must be performed quickly, often in life-threatening situations,” says Dr. Glenn Atlas, Stevens Institute of Technology Alumnus and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, New Jersey. By inserting a flexible tube into the trachea, a doctor or nurse maintains an open airway for patients who are critically injured or unable to breathe as an effect of being under anesthesia. The Stevens senior design team of Muhammad Abdul Rahman, Chika Ekweghariri, Cailin Grunewald, and Tarik Kramcha responded to the practical need of medical professionals by designing a stylette that more effectively guides a tracheal tube into optimal position.

Muhammad Abdul Rahman, Chika  Ekweghariri, Cailin Grunewald
            Muhammad, Chika, and Cailin

“Developing a practical innovation to a prevalent medical device as undergraduates is a remarkable achievement,” says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. “Our student team has shown the depth of knowledge and entrepreneurial boldness that a Stevens education affords them.”

Intubation is essential for surgery under anesthesia. When patients are put under anesthesia, they stop breathing as a natural result of the administered drug. Medical professionals must insert a tube into patients’ airways to move air in and out. This tube is very flexible, so medical professionals must use a rigid stylette that slides through the inside of the tube to maintain its shape and reach past the vocal chords into the glottis, where it can ventilate the lungs.

Tarik Kramcha
                   Tarik Kramcha

Dr. Glenn Atlas recognized the need for a more flexible stylette with a natural curvature to guide the tracheal tube into place. In response, the Stevens senior design team, with their advisor Dr. Vikki Hazelwood of the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology & Biomedical Engineering, and with assistance from MICRO Stamping Corp, designed and fabricated the V-Scope. "The Stevens Senior Design program creates unique opportunities for students to understand the professional environment by working closely with medical and industry advisors,” says Dr. Hazelwood.

The V-Scope is an extendable intubation stylette that slides more freely into the trachea to position a tracheal tube. It has an extendable “tongue” at the end which pushes a tracheal tube into its final position, as well as a unique radius of curvature that aligns more naturally with the trachea and makes it easier for doctors to intubate a patient.

The prototype is made from medical grade stainless steel, with a low-density polyethelene “tongue” extension. The students submitted several designs to their advisors, and once they settled on the final design, they visited MICRO, where the device was cut and laser welded with the assistance of Frank Semcer, Founder, and Frank Jankoski, Director of Research and Development.

“Clearly the students have a lot of raw talent and their education has enabled them to grasp concepts very quickly,” says Mr. Jankoski. “It appeared to me that they must have had a fair amount of practical knowledge of processes and have been well coached by Dr. Hazelwood on teamwork, an asset they exemplified throughout the project. This will be a great base for them as they enter industry. Wherever they are employed…teamwork will be critical to success.”

The students’ design is already in the process of being commercialized, pending FDA approval. “We're working with real professionals in the field,” says Caylin. “We see the possibilities and realize that it could go far and possibly be used in hospitals around the country,” says Chika. “As an undergraduate, it's an honor to take part in a project that could have a real impact.”

Dr. Atlas allowed the students to test their device on a manikin with an anatomically correct trachea at UMDNJ. “The device works beautifully,” he says.

“This is everything that I imagined a project like this could be,” says Tarik. “It's hands-on and makes me more interested in my studies. Because we've had exposure to the real world, we feel less green than most students.”

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