Week 7: Getting into a Rhythm

I’m finally getting into a rhythm at Boston Scientific! This week, I devoted the bulk of my time to really learning the nitty gritty details of my project. During the first week of our internship, I set a few key goals and deadlines to accomplish them. By the end of the second week, my aim was to:

  1. Learn more about intravascular ultrasound catheters
  2. Read Boston Scientific’s documentation for existing device prototypes
  3. Research the differences between catheters used in different organs, and understand how the physiology of these organs affects ultrasound properties

In order to accomplish these goals, I read background material, researched competitive products, and studied research papers and clinical trials that could provide insight about what we are trying to accomplish. I recognized that this work is necessary whenever you start a project, and especially when you enter in on a project after it has already begun. In order for me to be able to contribute productively, I need to make sure I am well-versed in the science behind it, and spending this time researching definitely helped.

One of the most interesting things I learned about this week was how critical the selection of a frequency for an ultrasound transducer is. The transducer is one of the tiniest components of the catheter, but  it drives the catheter’s functionality. When selecting a frequency, it is important to consider the effect it has on image resolution and penetration. High frequency catheters produce a high resolution image with low penetration, and low frequency catheters produce a low resolution image with high penetration. When modifying catheters for different applications, we must consider both the resolution that we need as well as the depth of the organ. Additionally, the acoustic impedance, or the resistance that the ultrasound beam encounters as it passes through tissue, varies from organ to organ and is also important to consider. The transfer of energy from the ultrasound beam to tissue can damage the tissue, so we must also prevent this from occurring.

On Tuesday, I also got a chance to see how the catheters are manufactured. On the product line, I saw the level of detail that goes into producing each component. Each part is assembled and tested for viability before it is passed on to the next step, ensuring that the quality of each catheter produced is up to par. I was surprised to see how much of the process is done by hand. Very little is automated, and each employee in the manufacturing line is able to assemble their components quickly and efficiently. The entire process is streamlined in such a way that makes it easy to pass parts on from one section to another. Prior to beginning my internship at Boston Scientific, I would never have guessed how much discipline, focus, and energy goes into the production of something as seemingly simple as a catheter. Having the opportunity to witness this firsthand was a really cool experience, and I look forward to spending more time on the production line.

Now that I’ve developed a solid foundation, I’m really excited to do more hands-on work this week. Our team will be conducting confirmation builds, which will allow us to characterize our results and better understand our needs for prototyping. After that, I will be able to determine the components that we need to build our prototypes, and start working on it! I’m really excited for the next couple of weeks at work, and can’t wait to see where this project goes.

This weekend, we went to Territorio de Zaguates, a dog shelter located in the mountains that provides a home for over 900 dogs. This shelter was incredible, and as a passionate dog lover I was so excited to see such a caring and healthy atmosphere for all of these pups. We went on a “dog hike” up a mountain with all of the dogs, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. We followed up our trip to the dog shelter with an outing to Feria de Chocolate in San Jose, where we got to learn about and taste dozens of different chocolates. This weekend was definitely one of my favorites in Costa Rica!

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