The Dundee Pulsatile Flow System (DPFS) project is funded by the Medical Research Council
(MRC), Grant number D041.
The testing of medical devices and the training of staff in new interventional techniques and procedures is currently performed via a variety of approaches that are not fit for purpose - tissue-mimicking phantoms, animal organs embedded in simulators, animal cadavers and fresh/frozen human cadavers.
The animal approaches are clearly compromised due to their inability to replicate human anatomy, the simulator approach does not address either realism or variation and the current human alternatives have serious tissue longevity and health and safety issues. Dundee University is the first in the UK to introduce Thiel embalming which results in a human cadaver that retains both the flexibility and colour of a fresh specimen. Preliminary tests have shown that the Thiel fluid is not yet perfected for MRI imaging. An MRI compatible fluid formula will render this cadaveric resource ideal for research into MRI guided surgery.
This pilot project aims to optimize the fluid for MRI imaging and then develop a prototype extracorporeal system to simulate pulsatile flow and respiratory motion. A realistic cadaver with soft internal organs moving to a pulsed motion with alterations in cavity pressures through lung inflation would provide an unrivalled opportunity to develop MRI guided interventional procedures through highly realistic simulation. The system will be patented and we aim to license the technology.
Prof. Andreas Melzer (University of Dundee)
Prof. Graeme Houston (University of Dundee)
Prof. Sue Back (University of Dundee)
Prof. Sir Alfred Cuschieri (University of Dundee)
Immediate end-users of the system will be the various research teams at IMSaT, i.e. transoesophageal ultrasound, DPFS DARTS project, EU Initial Training Network Integrated Interventional Imaging Operating System (IIIOS) and EU Industrial Academia Pathways Partnership (IAAP) with InSightec, GE and Capsutec co-ordinated by Prof Melzer. IMSaT has been appointed GE’s first Centre of MRI guided interventions and surgery with the remit to provide research and development of new interventional procedures. GE and InSightec have expressed interest in utilising Thiel embalmed bodies for the training and approval of newly developed imaging protocols and procedures. Storz is also interested in the DPFS Thiel embalmed bodies for approval and testing of devices. Sir Alfred Cuschieri has already proved the value of Thiel through the development of a new single port laparoscopic instrument, tested and refined on Thiel cadavers at IMSaT and then successfully marketed by Storz.
We have established vascular flow reperfusion of the superficial femoral artery, which allows MRI and X-Ray angiography.
In addition we have performed numerous procedures on Thiel-embalmed cadavers, including fluoroscopy and MRI-guided placement of stents and vena cava filters, focused ultrasound ablation and robotic-assisted percutaneous intervention. Results have been very promising to date, and work to optimize the model for research and training is ongoing.