The IMICS project is concerned with the development of micro-mechanical and microelectronic components and subsystems, and their integration into an advanced cardiac catheter system for plaque removal. More specifically, the project will aim to develop a system which integrates the sensing and signal processing (diagnostic) function with the microactuating (therapeutic) function in a catheter head of overall external diameter between 2 and 4 mm.
To achieve this objective, efforts will be focused on the following areas:
- microactuating and therapeutic subsystems development, including both electrostatically and/or fluid-driven versions. 3D simulation studies will form the basis for the design of these components and fabrication will rely on advanced LIGA procedures.
- evolution of a micro-miniature ultrasonic sensing system capable of determining the location and quality of intravascular plaque deposits, and of monitoring the progress of therapy. Advanced ultrasonic array technology in conjunction with CMOS based microprocessor chip developments will be required to realise this task.
- development of a positioning system capable of fixing the catheter in position within the artery wall whilst therapeutic action being performed.
- integration of electronic and micro-mechanical subsystems within a 2 to 4 mm catheter head.
It will be based on a series of expandable units, constructed using biocompatible balloon technology, which, by dilation, will be brought into contact with the artery wall by means of an array of active micro-valves.
Successful integration will hinge on the development of novel techniques for fabricating, handling and assembling submillimetre and micron scale sub-assemblies and components, while assessment and evaluation of the biocompatibility and reliability of catheter materials and components will form a significant element in the programme.
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