Optimizing Ascitic Fluid Drainage by Minimizing Catheter Occlusion
Two working Double Bubble prototypes with attached syringe
Approximately 4.9 million people in the U.S. are living with an advanced liver failure condition called cirrhosis, and about 80% of cirrhosis patients also suffer from ascites: the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. On average, patients can build up 5-10L of ascitic fluid every week, causing them discomfort, pain, and breathing complications. In order to remove this fluid, patients must undergo a procedure called a paracentesis in which a catheter is inserted into the abdomen and fluid is drained out by a vacuum. While paracenteses are routine procedures that should be painless for the patient, floating bowel or omental tissue can often get suctioned toward the drainage holes and occlude the catheter. Catheter occlusion causes discomfort for the patient and lengthens the duration of the procedure as the healthcare provider must reposition the patient or adjust the catheter to obtain sufficient fluid flow again. To provide a solution to catheter occlusion, the Fluid Fighters developed the Double Bubble catheter which uses dual-balloon technology to protect drainage holes from bowel or tissue that may approach the catheter. The Double Bubble requires no intervention by the healthcare provider throughout the duration of the procedure, and it uses a balloon inflation mechanism that many healthcare providers are already familiar with, thus allowing it to be easily integrated into today’s procedures. In the simulated environment of the abdomen, we compared the Double Bubble to the industry standard drainage catheter and found that the Double Bubble drains 9% faster. And when placed under conditions in which occlusion is more likely to occur, the Double Bubble drained fluid 26% faster than the industry standard. By implementing this active prevention of occlusion, the Double Bubble mitigates patient pain and allows healthcare facilities to implement more paracenteses per day by shortening procedure times.