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IIT-G students develop low-cost intubation box
 GUWAHATI, May 1 - A team of students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) has designed and developed a low-cost intubation box, which can prove useful in treating patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19, besides other ailments.

 The device that functions as an aerosol obstruction box placed atop the patient’s bed on the head-side, limits the flow of virus-laden droplets from the patient to the doctor, especially during the process of intubation.

“As in the case of COVID-19, patients develop respiratory failure thus requiring assistance in the form of endotracheal intubation. Given the nature of this process, healthcare providers are at risk of contracting the virus via droplets either exhaled or coughed out by the patient,” said an official of IIT Guwahati.

The device, inspired by the design of Taiwanese anaesthesiologist Dr Hsien Yung Lai, has been developed and designed by a student venture for medical innovation named ‘Mitochondrial’, which is mentored by Dr S Kanagaraj and Dr Sajan Kapil of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of IIT Guwahati.

“It is a low-cost alternative to intubation boxes and is easier to manufacture and deliver amid the lockdown. The projected cost per box is Rs 2,000, which is significantly lower than prices of existing alternatives,” said the official.

The team has received assistance from DRDO, New Delhi for prototyping and testing the product at the Solid State Physics Laboratory, New Delhi, and is consulting Dr Johann Christopher of Care Hospitals, Hyderabad and Dr Abhijeet Bhatia of NEIGRIHMS, Shillong to ensure efficacy of the design.

“There is shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) like powered air-purifying respirators (PARPs) and well-sealed face masks. As such, it is necessary to complement the use of makeshift acrylic face shields, N95 masks and surgical respirators, with a proper obstruction for aerosol spewed via the mouth and nose of the patient. The intubation box facilitates this protection by limiting the infection within the box’s volume around the patient. As opposed to other PPEs, this box works effectively for multiple doctors and nurses serving the patient,” said the official.

The transparent material allows visual access to the head of the patient inside and the armholes on the box allow for the care provider to perform any necessary tasks, including intubation and extubation, which are cough-inducing processes.

“Further, the boxes are reusable as they can be cleaned thoroughly with 70 per cent alcohol or bleach to allow use for the next patient. The primary prototype of the design has been completed at DRDO and the box is currently being reviewed in the field at major COVID-19 care centres such as AIIMS, New Delhi. Based on the continuous feedback, the design will be further optimised for improved efficacy, before the first batch is manufactured in Gurgaon,” the official said.

The team has started a crowd-funding campaign to manufacture these boxes and provide them to government hospitals free of cost.

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