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IIT Students Develop Intubation Boxes for COVID-19 Patients

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Students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have developed low-cost intubation boxes for dealing with COVID-19 patients facing breathing issues and requiring assistance in the form of endotracheal intubation.

Intubation is inserting a tube, called an endotracheal tube (ET), through the mouth and into the airway. It is done so that a patient can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing during anesthesia, sedation, or severe illness.

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

According to the team, the primary prototype of the design has been completed at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the box is currently being reviewed at major COVID-19 care centers including at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). It will be available at a much cheaper price than the ones available at present.

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“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,” Umang Mathur, a B.Tech student at the Department of Bioscience, told PTI

“Unlike 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,” Umang added.

According to Sanchit Jhunjhunwala, a Mechanical Engineering student, based on the feedback received from AIIMS and other COVID-19 health centres, the design will be further optimised for improved efficacy, before the first batch is manufactured in Gurgaon (Haryana).

“We have started a crowd funding campaign in order to manufacture these boxes and provide them to government hospitals for free. The campaign raised a record INR 50,000 within six hours of launching,” Sanchit said

“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 INR 2000, which is significantly lower than existing alternatives,” he added.

The six-member team includes Prateek Manocha and Vrishank Bhardwaj, from department of electrical engineering; Shwetank Panwar from Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and Vignesh Kumar from Department of Design.

The Government-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Behrampur has also developed an aerosol box for intubation process.

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 934 and the number of cases climbed to 29,435 in the country on Tuesday, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The ministry said that the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 21,632, while 6,868 people have recovered and one patient has migrated.

The total number of cases include 111 foreign nationals.

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