Alcor at Work Photo Gallery:
Facility Equipment

Other photo gallery pages: Procedures | Field Equipment
See also: Video Tour of Alcor Facility

 
MOBILE ADVANCED RESCUE CART (MARC): Alcor's Mobile Advanced Rescue Cart (MARC) is deployed via our ambulance for use in local cases. The cart was custom-fabricated from welded steel. A cardiopulmonary support device, such as the LUCAS, is placed over the patient in an ice bath and driven by two compressed-gas cylinders in the base of the cart. The cart also incorporates a blood pump/oxygenator system for heart-lung bypass (when surgically possible). The MARC enables uninterrupted blood circulation and rapid surface cooling while the patient is being transported to our facility.
 
 
MARC: The ice bath on the MARC contains a submersible pump which is powered by batteries below. The two flexible blue tubes are placed over a patient lying in the bath, and are perforated to distribute icewater as effectively as possible across the skin.
 
 
PERFUSION EQUIPMENT: In Alcor's operating room, this array of equipment controls and monitors the process of cryoprotective perfusion. Four medical-grade roller pumps in the base of the array allow precise control of pressure and flow. Four refractometers (small, square units in the center) monitor changes in cryoprotectant concentration. A computer displays and records temperature, pressure, and concentration data. Tubing, filters, a heat exchanger, and liquid reservoirs would be added during an actual case.
 
 
PERFORATOR: Numerous medical instruments are used during surgical preparation of cryonics patients. One of the instruments is a standard neurosurgical tool called a perforator. It is specially designed to penetrate the skull without harming the brain. The perforator is used during cryonics surgery to make two small holes (one over each brain hemisphere) so that the surface of the brain can be observed during cryoprotective perfusion. If the wall of small brain blood vessels (blood brain barrier) becomes damaged by long intervals of stopped blood circulation (ischemia), brain swelling (edema) can occur during perfusion. Since edema is potentially destructive, it must be carefully monitored.
 
 
SUPERCOOL X-1000 ICE BLOCKER: Alcor's cryoprotectant solutions incorporate state-of-the-art "ice blockers" to prevent ice formation during vitrification. These ice blockers have been shown in published studies to permit vitrification of larger volumes at slower cooling rates than previously possible.
 
COOLDOWN AREA: In the foreground at right, the whole body cooling bath is a large rectangular box whose thick walls contain three layers of Dow Trymer foam insulation. The purpose of this equipment is to reduce the temperature of a wholebody patient after cryoprotective perfusion, by immersing the patient in silicone oil cooled with dry ice. Two drums of oil are visible at the bottom of this photo. After the bath has been partially filled, a patient is wrapped in protective plastic and strapped to the wire-mesh stretcher, which is lowered into the oil. An insulated lid is placed over the bath, and a pump circulates the oil through a trough containing large pieces of dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) whose temperature is -79° Celsius. A newer system (not shown) is able to cool wholebody patients using cold nitrogen vapor to even lower temperatures for purposes of achieving vitrification. Wholebody vitrification technology is still under development.

 

 


Behind the whole-body bath is the neuro cooldown area, where nitrogen vapor is injected through a computer-controlled valve into a small Dewar containing a neuropatient. In the background stands a tall Dewar which is used to slowly cool a wholebody patient from -79° to -196° (the temperature of liquid nitrogen).


 
NEURO COOLDOWN EQUIPMENT: A Dewar of liquid nitrogen (foreground) is connected to a small neuropatient cooldown Dewar (background). A computer control system maintains a pre-programmed temperature descent by periodically injecting liquid nitrogen into the Dewar while a fan continuous stirs the nitrogen gas. The computer also receives data from temperature sensors in the patient.
 
 
BIGFOOT DEWAR: Bigfoot Dewars are Alcor's primary patient care system. Dewars are stainless steel vacuum-insulated containers that hold liquid nitrogen (named after their inventor, Sir James Dewar, in 1885). Alcor's Dewars are called "Bigfoot" because of the large casters at the bottom. Each Bigfoot can hold four wholebody patients, or 10 neuropatients in each space that would otherwise be occuppied by a whole body patient. Patients are maintained at a steady temperature of -196° Celsius, immersed under liquid nitrogen, with no need for electricity. Approximately 15 liters of liquid nitrogen per day evaporates from a Bigfoot Dewar, which must be periodically replenished.