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Home Technologies Flexible needle for targeted delivery of chronic pain treatment
Flexible needle for targeted delivery of chronic pain treatment

Flexible needle for targeted delivery of chronic pain treatment

Unmet Need

For patients suffering from chronic pain associated with degenerative changes, inflammation, neuropathy or cancer, the ability to carry out daily life and work activities is a challenge. Current treatment methods are limited and associated with high-risk surgical procedures. Pharmaceuticals and opioids can lead to central nervous system side-effects, limited efficacy, and addiction, whereas spinal cord stimulation (SCS) and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) stimulation are costly open surgical procedures associated with high mortality and morbidity rates. A promising minimally invasive and effective alternative is the delivery of stem cells, steroids, nerve blocks, anti-inflammatory agents, growth factors, or gene-therapy agents directly to nerve roots exiting the spinal column near the pain source. However, these nerve-roots are hard to effectively reach with straight needles even with image-guided placement, impeding the effective delivery of treatments. There is a need for more flexible needles to deliver treatments to difficult-to-reach nerve-roots via minimally invasive techniques.


Duke inventors have designed a flexible needle device to deliver chronic pain therapies to difficult-to-reach targets within the spine. Specifically, the device consists of a 21-gauge introducer needle that houses a 25-gauge, pre-curved nitinol cannula that is deployed via a sliding mechanism on a handheld hub. Taking advantage of the shape memory characteristics of nitinol, the distal end of the cannula can be heat-set to a specific curvature. Therapeutics can be then introduced through a Luer connection at the proximal end of the device. This device is in the high-fidelity prototyping stage.

Other Applications

This technology could also be used for many different procedures requiring injection into a difficult-to-access geometry, such as for delivering an epidural blood patch to a dural tear.


  • Smaller size than most flexible needles on the market
  • Enables curved tip ‘advancement’ rather than just tip ‘articulation’
  • Shape memory of nitinol cannula allows for highly specific needle pre-curvature
  • Nitinol cannula comes pre-threaded through introducer needle
  • Provides user precise control over directional trajectory and advancement of nitinol cannula
  • Minimally invasive, intuitive and easy-to-use coaxial design

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