Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Follow Up:

By Lauren GravitzMarch 1, 2002 6:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Doctors still use leeches for certain delicate medical procedures (see Discover,December 2001), but the bloodsuckers have their drawbacks: They wander about while they feed, they can cause infections, and they startle patients. So medical researchers are developing mechanical surrogates that "will work better than leeches," says Nadine Connor of the University of Wisconsin.

These artificial leeches could be used after reconstructive surgery to draw off blood that collects before there is time for new veins to form.

Connor and her colleagues have created a device (right) with a rotating disk that slips under the skin, a tube to draw off blood, and a supply of anticoagulants. It can tap into a deeper blood supply, decongest a larger area, and remove more blood than a real leech. It also looks benign, like a tiny glass teapot with a low spout. Patrick Cottler, an independent entrepreneur, came up with an alternative leech substitute while he was a graduate student at the University of Virginia. His device consists of a small polymer box with an array of needles on one side and a blood-removing vacuum tube on the other. Both synthetic bloodsuckers could be ready for human testing within a year.

placeholder

Photograph courtesy of Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin at Madison

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In