Thermomagnetic-Responsive Self-Folding Microgrippers for Improving Minimally Invasive Surgical Techniques and Biopsies

CR Dunn, BP Lee, RM Rajachar
July 13, 2022
Molecules, 27, 5196, 2022.

Traditional open surgery complications are typically due to trauma caused by accessing the procedural site rather than the procedure itself. Minimally invasive surgery allows for fewer complications as microdevices operate through small incisions or natural orifices. However, current minimally invasive tools typically have restricted maneuverability, accessibility, and positional control of microdevices. Thermomagnetic-responsive microgrippers are microscopic multi-fingered devices that respond to temperature changes due to the presence of thermal-responsive polymers. Polymeric devices, made of poly(N-isopropylacrylamide-co-acrylic acid) (pNIPAM-AAc) and polypropylene fumarate (PPF), self-fold due to swelling and contracting of the hydrogel layer. In comparison, soft metallic devices feature a pre-stressed metal bilayer and polymer hinges that soften with increased temperature. Both types of microdevices can self-actuate when exposed to the elevated temperature of a cancerous tumor region, allowing for direct targeting for biopsies. Microgrippers can also be doped to become magnetically responsive, allowing for direction without tethers and the retrieval of microdevices containing excised tissue. The smaller size of stimuli-responsive microgrippers allows for their movement through hard-to-reach areas within the body and the successful extraction of intact cells, RNA and DNA. This review discusses the mechanisms of thermal- and magnetic-responsive microdevices and recent advances in microgripper technology to improve minimally invasive surgical techniques.


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