Post-operative monitoring of sutures can be time-consuming for hospital staff, so surgical thread which is able to automatically feed information about how a wound is healing back to the clinician looks like a very valuable invention.
According to the World Health Organisation, some 234 million major surgical operations take place every year. Some of these result in post-operative complications. Patients are constantly monitored in order to avoid the worst. However, it is still difficult to see how an internal wound is progressing. Researchers at Tufts University in Massachusetts, US have been looking at this problem for some time and over the last eighteen months Tufts engineers have developed a toolkit whose main component is smart surgical thread.
Data collected by smart surgical thread can be interpreted using a smartphone. Source: Tufts University
Depending on which chemical products are used to envelop them, these smart threads can measure pH levels, blood pressure and glucose levels, all of which are indicators of a patient’s state of health following an operation. The Tufts researchers have now developed a system whereby the conductive threads generate electrical signals, which deliver the data to a flexible wireless transmitter sitting on top of the skin so that it can be analysed. Then all you need is a smartphone to obtain an interpretation of the data.
Smart surgical thread and health monitoring device invented at Tufts University
This looks to be a very good way of monitoring how well a wound is healing. However, researchers still have to ascertain that all the components used in the system are biocompatible with the human body. Tufts University says that the team will have to wait at least two years for a definitive answer. Watch this space.