Using smart-textile engineering to make coil embolization safer, faster, and cheaper

Challenge
It is estimated that currently, more than 3% of the world population has an unruptured cerebral aneurysm. In total, every year 10 in 100,000 people suffer from a ruptured brain aneurysm. A rupture of this aneurysm has an extremely high mortality rate, with 3 in 5 patients passing away within two weeks. Of those that do survive, over half are left with severe brain damage and disability. Consequently, fast, effective and early treatment of these aneurysms is vital.

Opportunity
The standard surgical procedure on a detected cerebral aneurysm is the catheter-based filling of the cavity with embolization coils, to provoke thrombocyte aggregation that leads to a plaque and closes the cavity. Depending on the aneurysm size, a large number of coils is necessary, which, in addition to increased costs, also leads to an extension of the intervention time and thus to an increased risk for the patient. Moreover, approximately 30-40% of treated patients experience complications due to migration of the coils, or because the aneurysm has not occluded (‘closed’) fully, causing the problem to reoccur. 

Solution
Researchers at Aachen University have developed a new fiber-coated, deformable coil. The coating fibers can cover a manifold higher volume than the coil alone. As a result, fewer coils are needed, leading to lower intervention times and lower patient risks. Moreover, as the coil is soft deformable, the cavity can be filled more effectively, without running the risk of rupture/complications.

Status
A patent application has been filed, and a first prototype has been built. The next step in the development of Occlutex is to miniaturize the prototype to make it usable for currently available catheter-systems, in preparation for animal and clinical trials.