We were assigned to unclog a main artery using our research and knowledge about the circulatory system and surgeries used in real life. Unclogging the artery was the final assignment to go with the whole unit on the circulatory system. Our goal was to find a way to give space for blood to travel through an artery that contained plaque which blocked or reduced flow within the whole circulatory system. The project required us to put our own little twist in the way we determine what is best to continue a healthy blood flow.
In our project, we were given cake icing to put inside a tube which was meant to replicate a blocked artery. The replicated blocked artery was placed inside a refrigerator for 2 days to harden the frosting so it was more like plaque. While it was being hardened, we were figuring out ways to either give the blood another passage, or to spread the plaque on the outside of the artery so that the blood could flow better.
We taped two popsicle sticks side by side so they could fold over, and stuck them into the plaque buildup, creating a hole. We also used pipe cleaners to enter the tube from the side opposite the plaque buildup so that the popsicle sticks wouldn’t merely move the build up further into the artery. Next, we had a straw which we stuck beside the popsicle sticks on the side containing the plaque buildup, and blew, spreading the plaque further and around the artery, seriously thinning it out. With this method, we were spreading the plaque throughout the whole artery so that there was only a very thin layer on the outer part of the artery. After this procedure we pulled all of our equipment out which ended up creating leeway for the blood to easily travel throughout the body. We had the smoothest ‘blood’ flow, and the most ‘blood’ flowing by the end of this procedure.
The assignment we were given was to think of a procedure that would let blood travel easily through a vessel blocked with plaque. The plaque clogs the vessels, which creates a blockage and if the cells cannot pass through the vessel, a procedure needs to be taken to ensure that the body is kept healthy. We learned about several well-known surgeries and tools that remove plaque from a vessel. One of the frequently used surgeries that is used to direct the flow of blood inside vessels is coronary bypass surgery. This surgery uses another vein by attaching it to the aorta of the heart and then to the blocked vessel below the point of blockage. Some materials that are used to compress the plaque into the sides of the vessel are catheters which are sometimes used with the help of a stent. These tools expand the blockage so that blood can travel more easily to other parts of the body.
Our first plan had a few errors so as a group we decided to created a new plan to fix the blood flow. The materials we used throughout the project were a large tube resembling a vessel, a small tube taking the role of a replacement vessel, chocolate frosting representing plaque, pipe cleaners, duct tape, a cup, a rubber band, a hot glue gun, and water which was symbolizing blood. In the larger tube we spread the frosting on one end and froze it for about a week. Our original idea was to create a balloon catheter which involved a small and large tube, a finger from a glove, a few pipe cleaners, and rubberbands. We thought that if air was blown in the small tube which was attached to the balloon, the balloon would inflate, and that the flexible stent (the pipe cleaner wrapped around the balloon) would expand with the balloon. We would then take out the balloon but leave the stent pressed against the wall of the “vessel”. However, our balloon and stent did not have room to expand in the vessel. After thinking of another plan we decided to use coronary bypass surgery. We started by melting a hole into the plaque-filled vessel using a hot glue gun, and attached the replacement vein to the opening of the hole. Securing the replacement vessel with duct tape and pipe cleaners allowed the blood’s new route to work smoothly. We poured water through the top of the larger tube which flowed into the replacement vessel. The water then poured out of the small tube and into a cup. After planning and experimenting with many tools, the water successfully traveled through the vessel without any disruptions.