Preventing infection is vital after surgery to avoid a range of complications. Currently, to monitor the progress deeper in the surgical wound a clinician needs to assess the site or expensive radiological tests need to occur. Unfortunately, both tend to fail detection of an infection before it becomes life threatening, therefore a more advanced monitoring process is needed.
Scientists from the National University of Singapore, have come up with a clever solution to this problem using bioelectronic sensors. The team, led by Professor John Ho, created a battery free, bluetooth device which still ensures the same level of healing ability as medical-grade materials. The monitor stays attached to the patient during the healing process and is later removed in a minimally invasive procedure, as with surgical stitches and staples.
The device can monitor gastric leakage, tissue micromotions, wound cohesion, and stitch integrity, up to a depth of 50mm. This important information is then relayed to an external reader, which says if action needs to be quickly taken at the wound site, avoiding possibly deadly infections. Details of the group’s method are outlined in the paper published in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
“Currently, post-operative complications are often not detected until the patient experiences systemic symptoms like pain, fever, or a high heart rate. These smart sutures can be used as an early alert tool to enable doctors to intervene before the complication becomes life-threatening, which can lead to lower rates of re-operation, faster recovery, and improved patient outcomes,” said Ho.
Next, the team wants to develop a portable wireless reader, ensuring the wound can be monitored in a clinical setting and also at home. Hopefully, this will allow patients to be discharged earlier and more lives to be saved. Surgeons and medical device manufacturers are being consulted on how to move forward with the project.
Source study: Nature Biomedical Engineering – Wirelessly operated bioelectronic sutures for the monitoring of deep surgical wounds