There is no doubt that suturing is one of the most important procedures used to repair tissue and facilitate healing. The techniques that surgeons use, the suture material, and the specific type of needle will vary depending on whether closing a simple or complex laceration, a gastrointestinal or vascular anastomosis, or closing a median sternotomy.
In an article published by Chemical and Engineering News, a team of Maryland researchers proposed applying sticky, biodegradable mats of polymer nanofibers onto surgical incisions to seal them and promote healing.
Polymer – PGLA
The idea isn’t unfamiliar since it was already tested before, but the problem is that existing methods of depositing such mats aren’t compatible with living cells and tissues. However, the new research study have shown that a polymer can be sprayed over the wounded area using a simple, common airbrush.
According to Peter Kofinas, a bioengineer at the University of Maryland, College Park, these mats of polymer work so fine that they show promise not only in “stitching,” but also as biodegradable, drug-releasing implants or as scaffolds for tissue engineering. What they did was create the mats directly on the tissue, using a commercial, common airbrush a tool more commonly used to apply paint.
Following a satisfactory result, developing the mat on the site of the wound is no easy feat. After failed attempts of trying many different formulations of a biodegradable polymer, they finally settled on a variation of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) or PGLA. By choosing a particular variation with a specific molecular weight of PGLA and using acetone as a solvent they were able to control the diameter of the resulting fibers – in the end, they settled for mats with fiber diameters of about 370 nm.
[quote_right]“Using an airbrush to deposit biomaterials directly onto tissue is quite enticing and has potential in many areas of medicine.”[/quote_right]
The researchers tested their mat on pig organs, showing that it can seal diaphragm hernias and cuts to the lung, intestine, and liver. The acetone evaporates before the fibers are deposited, which means that there are no toxicity problems with the acetone. Cells sprayed with the PLGA nanofibers also show no change in health after 24 hours. In lab tests, the nanofiber mats degraded completely over a 42-day period.
“Using an airbrush to deposit biomaterials directly onto tissue is quite enticing and has potential in many areas of medicine,” says Jeffrey M. Karp, a bioengineer and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Furthermore, Kofinas’s group is currently doing safety studies and improving the materials for surgical trials in laboratory animals.
However, this advanced solution may probably work just fine without posing any additional problems, but technology doesn’t eliminate the need for deep closure, especially in some countries all over the world. Likely, this may only be applicable to some surgeries.