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Innovate Wearables & Medical Devices Faster using Ansys Multiphysics Solutions

In recent years, the global market of IoT medical devices has been growing at 25% CAGR [1]. The exponentially growing demand for connected medical devices is expected to reach 20 billion USD in 2020[2]. The healthcare industry is rapidly delivering high-tech solutions to cater to:

  • Aging world population and rising chronic diseases
  • Increasing life style diseases
  • Increasing preference to self-health management

The proliferation of advanced medical electronic devices and wearable electronics is greatly improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. Connected patient modeling will be a critical factor in the continuing success of this field.

Until recently, it was necessary to visit the doctor to download data from a patient’s device for review. With 5G technology knocking on the doors, a Medical Internet of Things (Medical IoT) is gaining more and more popularity and is soon going to become the new norm. It will extend the connectivity and transmission of health data from the patient to the physician on a regular basis, or immediately and continuously in an emergency. The Medical IoT will make medicine participatory, personalized, predictive and preventive; also known as P4 Medicine.

Successful medical devices and pharmaceutical companies are using engineering simulation and connected patient modeling to develop systems that ensure high reliability, provide data privacy and expedite regulatory compliance. To make a real impact on healthcare, connected medical devices should capture and interpret relevant and reliable parameters without compromising patient safety and comfort, and deliver insights to physicians with full integrity, readability and security.

Ansys Multiphysics simulations are used in various stages in the design of these devices. One of the applications of these simulations is to evaluate the electromagnetic performance of antennas, sensors etc. Let us look at an example of a neurostimulator, which is placed under the patient’s skin to deliver mild electrical signals that provide pain relief by blocking pain messages before they reach the brain. Unlike oral medications that circulate through the patient’s body, the neurostimulator targets the precise area where pain is experienced. Patients can try a neurostimulator to see if it relieves their pain before committing to long term therapy. The device can be surgically removed later if the patient decides to pursue a different treatment. The batteries of rechargeable neurostimulators are recharged by low-frequency inductive energy transfer using a recharger that is attached to the patient’s belt. The recharger emits a non-radiating magnetic field that penetrates human tissue and the implanted device’s sealed metal enclosure for communication and recharging. An Ireland based global healthcare company got the approval of neurostimulator recharge system from the Federal Communications Commission of US without any clinical trial by only submitting the results of electromagnetic simulations carried out using Ansys Maxwell [3]. This resulted in saving of considerable time & money that would have gone into physical testing.

Use of body-worn wireless devices has grown in recent years because of actual and potential applications in healthcare, sports, law enforcement, entertainment and other areas. Using a wireless device close to a human body creates a number of major design challenges. The radiated power of the device must be below levels that can cause health hazard. The device’s power consumption, size, weight etc. must be minimized to make it suitable for wearing. However, the device must be designed to deliver a signal of sufficient power to the right location, with good reception by the target device — despite the fact that the human body may absorb a significant portion of that signal. These various aspects of the signal can be simulated by carrying out high frequency electromagnetic simulations in Ansys HFSS. A US based healthcare company used it to quickly gain insights into this complex interaction of signal with its surrounding. This helped them reduce the design time of a wearable antenna by 25% [4].

Figure-1: A typical wearable insulin pump & associated design challenges

At Ansys, a complete Multiphysics solution is developed for a wearable insulin pump that is used to deliver insulin in right quantities based on the patient’s need [5]. Figure-1 shows a typical pump and the associated design challenges, namely durability of the pump, embedded software, power management, wireless communication, catheter design, catheter kinking, drug flow through the catheter & finally the drug infusion in the blood.

figure 2
Figure-2: Ansys Multiphysics simulations used to meet different design challenges

Figure-2 shows fluids, mechanical, electromagnetic & systems modeling used to meet the design challenges mentioned above. Detailed individual physics modeling helps designer understand various aspects of the device design.

  • Modeling a catheter kink using Ansys Mechanical can provide insights into the maximum stresses that the catheter walls have to sustain and hence help choose material that will withstand the stresses throughout the expected life of the
  • Using Ansys fluids solutions can help understand the flow of drug through the catheter and its infusion in the blood. Thrombotic occlusions of catheter may result from the formation of a thrombus within, surrounding, or at the tip of the By performing multiple fluids simulation of this occlusion over the complete parametric space, it is possible to create a Reduced Order Model (ROM) that can later be used in the systems model.
  • An Electromagnetic (EM) analysis of the pump along with a Human Body Model (HBM) sheds light on the complex interaction of the EM field with the human body leading to estimates of absorption of radiation by the human body. A parametric analysis enables positioning

On top of these individual physical modeling, a system model is also developed, which helps product teams understand how components and controls behave when assembled into a fully integrated system.

As illustrated by various examples above, Ansys Multiphysics solutions can be used to obtain various physics based & systems level insights of a medical device early in the design. This helps engineers to reduce the cost & effort of prototyping & physical testing by providing opportunity to conduct parametric studies over the full Design of Experiment (DoE) space & optimize the design. This means safe, accurate, durable and affordable wearables & medical devices can be designed with a reduced time to market.

About the author:

Hemant PunekarHemant Punekar, Healthcare Expert, Ansys India

With over 16 years of experience at Ansys, Hemant Punekar specializes in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and has worked closely with the global pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. He has developed several models to solve complex fluid flow problems in medical devices, manufacturing equipment, etc. He has been evangelizing the technology with healthcare and pharmaceutical companies in India.


Niloy Banerjee

A generic movie-buff, passionate and professional with print journalism, serving editorial verticals on Technical and B2B segments, crude rover and writer on business happenings, spare time playing physical and digital forms of games; a love with philosophy is perennial as trying to archive pebbles from the ocean of literature. Lastly, a connoisseur in making and eating palatable cuisines.

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