Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Pediatric Smart Tracheostomy Device

A group of students at Stevens Institute of Technology has developed a smart pediatric tracheostomy device. The device is designed to alert doctors and caregivers if the patient is at risk for respiratory distress due to a blockage or malfunction. The device is named TrachAlert and is currently in the prototype phase with plans to go into production in the near future. 


"Seeing it in real life and hearing them suction [the tubes of] patients, it was very intense," says Yanique Spigner senior biomedical engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology "We all thought the procedure needed to be revamped and this was something we could help."


The TrachAlert prototype for pediatric tracheostomy patients.
The TrachAlert prototype for pediatric tracheostomy patients.
Credit: Stevens Institute of Technology.

From the Stevens Institute of Technology article: "After nailing down a plan of action, the team quickly zeroed in on the design and specifications of their device. The students wanted to create something that would be small and portable, allowing the children to be more active and autonomous. It’s a problem that their clinical advisor, Dr. Frank Castello, clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, has wanted to solve for years.

Since pediatric tracheostomy tubes are only 15 millimeters in diameter, the team had to consider several constraints when designing TrachAlert. 'There are other devices on the market for tracheostomy tubes to support breathing functions. We looked at similar devices and asked how can we make it small enough so it’s not going to impact the components of the tube itself while effectively monitoring it,' says Iobst, who came up with the TrachAlert’s design. It also needs to be easily removed in case a caregiver must adjust or suction secretions from the tube.

TrachAlert will use a sensor to detect breathing patterns and identify if and when there’s an obstruction in the airway. 'We’re simulating a blockage and analyzing the data to determine whether or not the device effectively detects an obstruction,' says Komar."


Read more about the smart pediatric tracheostomy device at Stevens Institute of Technology.