School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Research

Smart Peripheral Stents Research Project

Smart Peripheral Stents for the Lower Extremity - Design, Manufacturing and Evaluation

Customised design of novel medical implants represents the cutting-edge development of interventional therapy for treatment of complex diseases.

Our Aim

Peripheral arterial disease refers to partial or total block of limb arteries due to the accumulation of fatty deposits on the vessel wall. The disease imposes a progressive damage to patients’ health and wellbeing due to the restriction of blood supply to leg muscles. Typical symptoms include pain when walking and dying of leg tissue. The disease can be effectively treated by vascular stents which are essentially meshes of synthetic materials used to reopen the blocked blood vessels. However, stenting in peripheral arteries has proved problematic, given the complexity of the disease and constant exposure to severe biomechanical forces. Consequently, it requires customised design in order to improve patency times and reduce complications in interventional therapy. In addition, current stent manufacturing (such as laser cutting and photo etching) is a material wasteful and time-consuming process. Additive manufacturing (AM) via Selective Laser Melting (SLM) offers the most promising approach to generate stents with customized designs and extensive saving of raw materials. This research aims to develop smart stents for treatment of complex periphery artery stenosis in the lower limbs, where customised design of novel medical devices should significantly improve patency times and reduce complications in interventional therapy. This is a highly challenging topic and beyond the capability of current stent manufacturing technology.

 

Our Research

Three universities, Loughborough University (LU), University of Birmingham (UoB) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), are brought together to collaboratively work on the project, based on complementary research strengths in biomechanics, additive manufacturing and fluid mechanics. Th project is also in collaboration with Abbott Vascular (USA), RWTH Aachen University Hospital (Germany), Johnson-Matthey, the MTC, Lucideon and the NHS.

Our Outcomes

The research will generate pilot data regarding structural integrity and key performance of Nitinol components produced by micro-selective laser melting (SLM), which will significantly benefit the additive manufacturing (AM) research communities. To measure the haemodynamic performance of fabricated stents, novel experiments will be carried out by using an in-vitro setup equipped with advanced sensors and imaging tools. The method and results are also of high value to researchers who are working in the fields of endovascular scaffolds and arterial biomechanics. In addition, the interdisciplinary team will develop virtual computer tools, such as the advanced process and mechanics models, to simulate AM process and mechanical behavior of biomedical devices, which will generate imminent interest for research communities working in similar fields.

Professor Liguo Zhao - Professor of Solid Mechanics

"This unique research project unites pioneering biomanufacturing technology with advanced solid and fluid biomechanics to deliver customised smart implants for treating cardiovascular disease."

Professor Liguo Zhao - Professor of Solid Mechanics