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Local anesthesia at clinics: Support by microtube visible in ultrasound

At the Institute for Applied Biopolymer Research (ibp) at Hof University of Applied Sciences, research is currently being conducted on an ultrasound-visible microtube that is intended to significantly simplify the work of anesthesiologists at hospitals. The project “TubUS – Ultrasound-Visible Microtube” is being funded by the Bavarian Research Foundation (BFS) with a grant of 224,000 euros. The research period is two years.

The TubUS project team at the kick-off meeting. f.l.t.r.: Stefanie Meyer (Project Manager ALPO, Project Manager Technology & Development), Stefan Lautner (Project Manager Technology & Development), Michaela Zagler (Project Manager ibp); Photo: Lucas Großmann;

In local anesthesia, an anesthetic is injected under the skin or directly into the tissue. To do this, a tube with a metal needle inside is inserted into the region where the drug is to be administered. To make this process even more precise and minimally invasive, a new plastic tube is to be developed that is clearly visible in ultrasound thanks to innovative microstructures.

The challenge of local anesthesia

The challenge in local anesthesia is that the plastic tubing is not visible using ultrasound techniques, which makes it difficult to position the tubing accurately once the metallic needle has been removed

Currently, this deficiency is still compensated for by administering larger amounts of anesthetics or using more expensive X-ray procedures with contrast agents, which can lead to side effects.

Tissue-sparing administration of anesthetics through microtubes

The goal of the project at the Institute for Applied Biopolymer Research (ibp) at Hof University of Applied Sciences is now to develop a new plastic tube that is clearly visible in ultrasound by means of innovative microstructures

Product photo of the micro hoses from ALPO Medizintechnik GmbH; Image: ALPO Medizintechnik GmbH;

For this purpose, the microstructure in the polymer, on the surface and at the tip of the tube is to be changed. This will significantly improve ultrasound visibility, making it much easier for the anesthesiologist to position the tubing, and the low-friction guidance of the tubing will be gentle on the tissue.

Project schedule

Under the direction of Michaela Zagler, research associate at ibp, the project is scheduled to run for two years.

In a first step, we will specify the requirements profile and application-specific specifications for biocompatibility, i.e. the compatibility between natural human tissue and our material. This will be followed by a test setup and the performance of initial in-vitro tests to estimate ultrasound visibility.”

Michaela Zagler, Project Manager

Finally, followed by further research results, the functional samples produced are to be examined under real-life conditions of use, including final tests to examine the storability and durability of the microstructures.

Project and funding partners

The ibp project team works together with the industrial partner ALPO Medizintechnik GmbH. ALPO Medizintechnik GmbH is a medical technology company from Auerbach in the Upper Palatinate and processes plastics into medical products. The two partners are supported on the user side by the HochFranken clinics in trials, with loan equipment and by medical science consulting.

The project is funded with 224,000 euros from the Bavarian Research Foundation, of which 147,100 euros go directly to Hof University of Applied Sciences.


Franziska Brömel

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