The Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) team at U-M works to identify new solutions to improve patient care. The team met with representatives from Nuclear Medicine and MCRU in October 2013 to design a prototype pump for MCRU neuroblastoma patients. The pump automatically empties radioactive urine directly into the waste stream for disposal eliminating the need for the clinical staff to have to do this manually.
MCRU treats neuroblastoma patients with an investigational agent that is radioactive (I-131 MIBG therapy) approximately once a month. After the radioisotope is infused, the pediatric patient is considered "radioactive.” The child continues to remain in a lead-lined isolation room for 3-5 days, until radiation levels are low enough that the patient can be discharged. During isolation, the radioactive drug is eliminated in body fluids, primarily the urine. A Foley catheter is placed before therapy so the “hot” urine does not sit in the bladder for any length of time. The risk of radiation exposure is increased when emptying the Foley, creating a safety hazard for the clinical staff caring for the patient. Anything that decreases exposure is optimum.
Before this new urine pump, nurses manually emptied the Foley bag every eight hours. There was always a potential for radiation contamination and an increase in exposure. Now the staff can switch on the pump and it automatically empties the urine from the Foley. Tubing runs from the Foley bag and directly into the bathroom and into the toilet. The pump empties about 1,000cc in five minutes.
FFMI worked with Nuclear Medicine and staff at MCRU to design and test the pump. MCRU has successfully used it on four children who have undergone the radioactive therapy. The next step will be to share it with colleagues in other centers that deal with similar challenges.