The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati students have designed and developed low-cost intubation boxes. The device functions as an aerosol obstruction box which is placed atop the patient bed on the head-side, limiting 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. The device is inspired by the design of Dr Hsien Yung Lai, an anesthesiologist from Taiwan.
It is developed and designed by a student venture for medical innovation named Mitochondrial. Mitochondrial is mentored by Dr. S. Kanagaraj and Dr. Sajan Kapil of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, 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. 2000, which is significantly lower than existing alternatives.
The team has received assistance from the DRDO for prototyping and testing at the Solid State Physics Laboratory, New Delhi, and is consulting Dr. Johann Christopher of Care Hospitals, Hyderabad, and Dr. Abhijeet Bhatia of NEIGRIHMMS Shillong, to ensure the efficacy of the design.
Speaking on the latest development related to COVID-19, Dr. TG Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati said, “It is a matter of great pride that after the major initiatives taken by faculty members and alumni of IIT Guwahati to develop various products for the containment of COVID-19 and major research initiatives, IITG students are also coming up with novel products and immediate solutions for protecting doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in this national effort against COVD-19.”
At IIT Guwahati we have initiated the COVID-19 Grand Challenge for encouraging the students to come forward with ideas and solutions to fight this pandemic and we are expecting several products in the near future, Dr Sitharam said.
Amid the dearth of PPE such as powered air-purifying respirators (PARPs) and well-sealed face masks, it becomes essential 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 allows having this protection in place by limiting the infection within the box’s volume around the patient.
As opposed to other PPE, this box works effectively for multiple doctors and nurses serving the patient. While the transparent material allows visual access to the head of the patient inside, the arm-holes on the box allow for the care-provider to perform any necessary tasks including intubation and extubation, which are both processes known to be cough inducing. Further, the boxes are reusable, as they may be cleaned thoroughly with 70 per cent alcohol or bleach, to allow use for the next patient.
Speaking about the development, Umang Mathur, a BTech student of the Department of Bioscience & Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati, said, “We feel that it is our responsibility to contribute to this fight against a global pandemic and there could not be a better time and opportunity for IIT graduates to start building upon their world-class education background and exposure, to provide solutions centred around simplicity and make India self-reliant, instead of being dependent on imported technologies especially at this time of crisis”.
The primary prototype of the design has been completed at DRDO, New Delhi, 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, Haryana.
The team has started a crowdfunding campaign in order to manufacture these boxes and provide them to government hospitals for free. The campaign raised a record Rs. 50,000 within six hours of launching.