Researchers invent automatic blood sampler
SHANGHAI — Researchers from Tongji University in the municipality announced they have invented an automatic blood sampler that can match or outperform healthcare professionals.
The desktop machine, which includes near-infrared and ultrasound image-guided devices, can locate veins in patients quickly and safely, avoiding repeated needle insertion attempts.
Venipuncture, which involves inserting a needle into a vein to extract a blood sample or inject medication, is the world’s most common clinical procedure.
But even medical experts may fail when treating patients without visible veins.
Repeated venipuncture failures for some patients, such as the elderly or the obese, is rather painful, time-consuming and may boost the likelihood of vein inflammation and person-toperson infection.
In the fight against the COVID19 epidemic, many medical workers wearing heavy protective suits have had difficulty finding veins in patients.
“The machine we created can help solve these problems,” said lead researcher Qi Peng, a teacher at the electronics and information engineering department of Tongji.
“The robot has stronger capabilities in terms of visualization, recognition and operation than we humans have,” said Qi, adding that it enables clinicians to acquire blood samples efficiently and safely and prevents unnecessary complications and injuries to both them and patients.
Though many vein scanners already available on the market can help show the location and depth of blood vessels, they still require manual labor to collect blood samples and inject medication, the researcher said.
The robot can automatically insert a needle into veins, as researchers have developed an algorithm to determine the ideal angle and depth of injection.
Before entering the market, the invention had won many awards at both local and national university student entrepreneurship competitions.
It was also exhibited at the third China International Import Expo last year.
The machine will soon be tested in hospitals, benefiting more patients and medics, Qi said.