-By Francesca Serra
Mayyada Hawsawi, master student in the Sensing, Magnetism, and Microsystems Research Group, directed by Professor Jurgen Kosel, brought a piece of KAUST's research to the Falling Walls Global Lab Finale on November 8th 2017, in Berlin, Germany.
Hawsawi, who is pursuing a Master degree in Electrical Engineering, pitched her idea about an innovative navigation system to be used during cardiac catheterization. As she explained in her 3-minute talk - "Breaking the Wall of Cardiac Disease Treatment" - current angiography involves the use of a contrast agent in combination with X-ray imaging. Both the dye and X-ray increase the risk, in debilitated patients, of incurring in side effects. The contrast agent is metabolized by the liver and can be toxic in patients affected by hepatic decompensation. High doses of radiations, on the other hand, are known to induce genetic alterations and tumors.
Hawsawi is developing a series of 3-axis magnetic sensors that, thanks to their microscopic size, can be placed on the tip of the catheter. At any catheter's movement, the tiny sensors can detect the small changes in the strength of the Earth magnetic field. The continuous processing of those orientation data produces a map of the catheter movements and allows the medical staff to navigate the coronary artery without the use of a contrast dye and potentially-harming radiation.
The project is currently in the development phase which involves the assessment of the sensor's responsiveness as well as the robustness of the mathematical model. After the end of the laboratory testing phase, the project will move forward into the clinical phase that will be taken over by the cardiac surgeons from the King Abdullah Medical City who collaborate with Professor Kosel's Research Group.