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Drawing blood from veins may not hurt anymore

  • Image Credit: Design Innovation Center, IIT Bombay
    A working model of the vein tracer

IIT Bombay student develops a device to locate veins before drawing blood.

For many of us, the thought of being pricked by a needle to draw blood or inject drugs is horrifying, right? What if you had to be pierced many times because the right vein could not be identified? Nightmarish you say? Soon, this could be the thing of past, thanks to an award-winning ‘vein tracer’ by Mr. Trivikram Annamali, a student of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.

The vein tracer is a simple, hand-held, lightweight device that can help medical practitioners identify the veins during a venipuncture procedure like drawing blood or administering an intravenous injection. It works using near-infrared spectroscopy, where infrared light is used to understand the interaction between matter (blood, in this case) and the infrared radiation.

Medical practitioners find it tough to locate veins in children or patients who are dark-skinned or obese, leading to unnecessary needle pricks, causing agony and taking a long time. The newly developed vein tracer helps to locate the vein in the first attempt. When a beam of light falls on deoxygenated blood, it gets deflected, producing a silhouette of veins, which the medical practitioner can use to prick.

The device works equally well on patients of all age groups, skin complexion and weight. It costs about Rs. 2000, making it affordable for small hospitals and clinics. It is easy to use, ergonomic and needs minimal training for hospital staffs to use. It is also portable, making it easy to be carried for blood camps, health checkup camps, etc. A working prototype is available, and pilot testing is in progress.

The innovation, guided by Prof. Purba Joshi and Prof. B.K. Chakravarthy and supported by the Design Innovation Centre, IIT Bombay, won the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation (GYTI) Award 2018. The award was presented by the Hon’ble President Shri Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan on 19th March 2018.