We’ve all felt that sting – that sharp pinch – the sudden pain inflicted by your doctor as she says “this may hurt a bit” then quickly jabs a foreign object into your arm, leg, or behind before you have time to register her words.
Well, that uncomfortable and unsettling scenario may soon become a thing of the past. One day soon we may be able to take our children to the doctor without seeing those all too common tears start streaming like a faucet as soon as the “S” word is spoken. Various new types of “painless” syringes are currently being developed that promise to take the hurt out of getting your shots.
The Mosquito Needle
One type of “painless” syringe has been developed by a team of Japanese micro-engineers led by Kansai University Professor, Seiji Aoyagi. The needle, which mimics a mosquito’s “stinger,” reportedly makes injections painless.
Professor Aoyagi’s needle is etched from silicon and mimics a mosquito’s labrum and maxillae. The labrum is an internal tubular structure that allows a mosquito to suck blood from its victim and is enclosed between two sharp jagged saw-like maxillae. Because of their jagged construction, the maxillae make minimal contact with the surface area in the skin during penetration, and therefore, minimal contact with pain registering nerves. Unlike the mosquito’s maxillae, traditional hypodermic needles, which are smooth, make contact with far more nerve endings during penetration. The greater contact made by a traditional smooth needle creates that painful sensation we’ve all had to experience at one time.
The Professor’s newly developed syringe mimics the mosquito’s construction by using two jagged outer needles that initially penetrate the skin. Next, a smooth inner needle penetrates the skin between the jagged outer needles then delivers the necessary drugs and/or permits a necessary blood draw. But wait, there’s more. The ingenious design also mimics the mosquito’s technique. Mosquitoes vibrate their proboscis as they penetrate the skin to help the maxillae more easily slide through skin tissue. Similarly, the outer and inner needles in the professor’s device are powered by tiny motors that cause the device to vibrate much like the mosquito’s maxillae.
The Numbing Needle
A second type of new “painless” syringe is also being developed by a team of freshmen students at Rice University. The freshman team’s new device is constructed using a 3-D printer and reportedly combines water and ammonium nitrate to cool an injection site prior to injection, thereby making a hypodermic needle’s eventual penetration less painful.
While the students’ device is still under development, the team seeks to eventually incorporate a needle into the device itself so that doctors may both numb the injection site and inject the necessary drugs and/or perform a necessary draw blood in one procedure.
The 1-2 Punch
A third type of “painless” syringe has been developed by Mr. Oliver Blackwell. Mr. Blackwell’s device attempts to solve the pain problem by actually penetrating the skin twice. The device, termed a multi-stage syringe, is constructed using two needles instead of the traditional single needle. The initial smaller needle delivers a fast acting local anesthetic while the second larger needle delivers the necessary drugs and/or performs a necessary blood draw.
Mr. Blackwell posits that one major reason anesthetics aren’t commonly used during injections is because the associated cost of using multiple needles during any one injection is prohibitive. And, he might have a point. While simply using two needles for any one injection may not seem THAT costly, when considering the number of injections performed worldwide and the time and effort it takes to produce, transport, and then store multiple needles, the potential associated costs are better put into perspective. Also, using multiple needles during any one injection may increase the possibility of infection as a second needle must also penetrate the skin during each injection.
Blackwell’s device solves the multiple needle dilemma by ingeniously placing one syringe inside the other so that both are inside the same housing. This solution may eventually allow your doctor to only store and utilize the single device.
In addition to lowering the level of pain experienced when receiving your yearly flu shots or other vaccinations, these new “painless” syringes may also offer some relief to those who suffer from chronic diseases that in many cases require regular injections for treatment, such as diabetics and MS patients, for example.
Granted, these new types of “painless” syringes are either still being developed or aren’t widely used by your doctor for treatment right now; but, it may not be too much longer until we’ll never have to experience that all too familiar pit in the stomach that arises when we see that squirt of fluid come out of the needle tip while the doctor flicks the syringe and states those five terrifying words – “this may hurt a bit.”
But, until then, don’t worry – MeMD has you covered. Not only can you see a doctor online for common ailments, you don’t have to worry about any surprise shots. Since, remember, you can’t be jabbed with a needle virtually!