Although the administering of fluids to patients via an intravenous (IV) line may be commonplace, what many people may not realize is that getting the needle into a vein can be quite a tricky process – often several failed attempts are required before success is achieved. That’s why a group of students and staff from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created a robotic gadget to do the job.

The handheld device, known as SAGIV, uses infrared light and electrical sensing to detect the presence of veins beneath the patient’s skin. A display on a linked computer shows those veins, along with the tip of the needle. The user just lines the one up with the other, then SAGIV quickly and accurately inserts the needle to which the IV line is subsequently attached.

The technology is being developed with children strongly in mind, as they can be particularly upset by the discomfort of getting needles. Already, SAGIV has been successfully tested in the pediatric ward of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. According to the team’s clinical expert, Dr. Yotam Almagor, "Children that used to be pricked numerous times in every visit can now be connected in a single attempt."

In its current prototype form, which can be seen in the video below, SAGIV is still rather bulky. Down the road, however, it may be developed into a much smaller, sleeker device that has its own built-in screen.

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