CHARLIE HECK: It’s not often
that I get to be in charge of the props and costumes around
here but this week, it’s my turn! And we’re talking needles.
Jordan says she’s not scared of them but I’ve got a trick or two
up my sleeve. JORDAN D’ERI: Well, well, well,
look who jumped on the costume train. Paging Dr. Heck, paging
Dr. Heck. CHARLIE HECK: Please Dr.
Charlie, Dr. Heck is my father. JORDAN D’ERI: Alright. CHARLIE HECK: It’s not fair
that I always have to play the serious one. My character has
fun sometimes too! Speaking of serious, did you know that more
than 13 million pain-blocking epidural procedures are
performed every year in the US? JORDAN D’ERI: I did know, and
while epidurals are generally regarded as safe, did you know,
there are complications in up to 10 percent of the cases, the
needles are inserted too far or placed in the wrong tissues,
making them less effective or possibly causing injury. CHARLIE HECK: I did know that.
I also know that a team of researchers from MIT and
Massachusetts General Hospital hopes to improve those numbers
with a new sensor that can be embedded into an epidural
needle, helping anesthesia doctors guide the needle to the
correct location. JORDAN D’ERI: Currently,
anesthesiologists must guide a 4- to 6-inch needle through 5
layers of tissue to reach the epidural space surrounding the
spinal cord, which is their target. They’ll know when the
needle has reached the right spot based on how the tissue’s
resistance changes, so the needle is placed, essentially
blindly. CHARLIE HECK: The research team
designed and tested several types of optical sensors that
could be placed at the tip of an epidural needle and found the
best type relies on a technique called Raman spectroscopy. JORDAN D’ERI: This technique,
which uses light to measure energy shifts in molecular
vibration, offers detailed information about the chemical
composition of tissue. And the sensor the team created can
distinguish each of the various tissue layers around the
epidural space with 100 percent accuracy. CHARLIE HECK: The sensors are
still in the testing phase but the team hopes further advances
in this technology could also be applied to medical procedures,
like cancer biopsies or injecting drugs into the joints,
which can be difficult to do accurately. Alright Jordan,
ready to test this new sensor out… JORDAN D’ERI: Wow, wow, wow, I
did not sign up for this! CHARLIE HECK: I thought you
were okay with needles? Come on, give it a shot! ♪MUSIC

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