A new weapon in the hands of surgeons. Intelligent sutures.

Almost every surgical wound requires to be closed as soon as possible. It reduces the risk of postoperative complications and infections. The most common method of wound closure is suturing. Nowadays, there are many types of surgical sutures which are primarily used for this and they differ in thickness and the material they were made of. Recently, there were reports of a completely new type of sutures.

Researchers from the University of Illinois in the United States have created the world’s first intelligent sutures. Their “intelligence” results from the fact, that they are equipped with two very thin sensors (called micro-sensors) that constantly monitor the condition of the surgical wound by evaluating the temperature. To properly fulfill their function they have been attached to the silicone membranes which are wrapped around the cotton or silk sutures. Sensors are built from silicon films, gold microelectrodes and spirally coiled nanowires [1].

The rise of temperature around the wound usually heralds a growing infection. If the temperature of the wound or around it rises, the golden fibers joined with the suture heat up. Then they give back the accumulated heat to the wound thus accelerating the healing process [1].

Information about the wound temperature received by the sensors can be read by using a appropriate reader. By connecting the reader to the laptop it is possible to receive all the data. However, owing to a special software it is possible to process the data to a thermal map. The map shows the temperature, depending on the place of reading, and it’s changes in time [2].

So far group led by John Rogers conducted a number of research using smart suture on rats. Obtained results confirm the effectiveness of their invention. In case of rats, the healing time with the use of intelligent sutures was by up to 20% shorter comparing to the healing time with the use of conventional ones. In addition, the use of intelligent sutures reduces the risk of postoperative infections. [3]

Unfortunately, we still have to wait for the practical application of the new invention. As researches expect, same clinical trials will last about 2 years. However, the regular use of intelligent sutures in surgical practice can be expected in even five years after their first clinical application [4].

Written by: Sandra Kryska, Mateusz Grajek, Anna Rej

1. Patel P., Smart Sutures That Detect Infections, Technology Review, 24 August 2012 [dostęp on-line: 01.09.2012]
2. Kwasnicka M., Inteligentne szwy pomogą w gojeniu się ran, PAP [dostęp on-line: 01.09.2012]
3. Surosz P., Inteligentne nici chirurgiczne [dostęp on-line: 01.09.2012]
4. PAP, Inteligentne szwy ułatwiają gojenie się ran [dostęp on-line: 01.09.2012]

Would You like to know more? Watch on MEDtube.net: Closure of Lower Leg Wound with Gastrocnemius Muscle Flap and Split-Thickness Skin Grafts

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