The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

The Swiss patch that warns doctors of and closes surgical leaks

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 24 July 2023
A novel patch equipped with sensors provides early warnings of leaks on sutures in the gastrointestinal tract – and can close them instantly.
The Swiss patch that warns doctors of and closes surgical leaks
A closer look at the revolutionary surgical patch (Credit: SwissTech).

Every year, approximately 14 millions patients undergo gastrointestinal surgery. While often lifesaving, sutured and stapled reconnections leak in around 10% of the cases, according to a recent article published in the journal nature communications. Until now, leaks in sutures, such as those in the intestine, were usually discovered only when patients showed physical reactions after the surgeon closed their abdomens.

Less life-threatening complications

novel patch developed by researchers at ETH Zurich and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology Empa is expected to significantly reduce the risk of life-threatening complications after abdominal surgery. The researchers equipped their patch with non-electronic sensors that indicate before digestive juices can leak into the abdominal cavity.

The results were published in the journal Advanced Science. The sensors consist of special protein structures or salts that react to changes in pH or to certain enzymes in the intestine. When these sensor elements come into contact with digestive juices, their structure changes.

Surgeons have told us that they keep a close eye on the surgical field during even the most complicated procedures – but as soon as the abdominal cavity is closed, they are ‘blind’ and may not notice leaks until it is too late.

Alexandre Anthis, Project Leader

Depending on the location of the leak, the reaction takes place within minutes or a few hours. Until now, health care professionals have had to rely on physical reactions of those affected or laboratory tests that occur much later – both indications may come too late at providing a clear indication of a leaking seam. Doctors can detect the change with ultrasound and computer tomography (CT) without having to cut open the abdomen. If the operated site is leaking, contrast deviations on ultrasound and CT images indicate a leak.

Closing the wound instantly

According to the statement, the material also has the properties needed for wound closure. The biocompatible superglue, which is largely composed of water, could not only reduce the risk of complications after abdominal surgery, but also shorten hospital stays and save healthcare costs.

The research team is in the process of forming a spin-off company to bring the patch to market.

This article was was reprinted with permission from SwissTech.

Most Read

Sunday, April 7 – Round Up

7 April 2024
Sunday, April 7 – Round Up
Switzerland may fund French nuclear projects as it grapples with internal issues in the news this Sunday morning.

Swiss Employers Association: Increase Retirement Ages

8 April 2024
Swiss Employers Association: Increase Retirement Ages
Following the rejection of a pension initiative, the Swiss Employers' Association (SAV) recommends a gradual raise in retirement age to 66.

Diehl Defence Will Develop Drones For Swiss Defence Firm Skysec

12 April 2024
Diehl Defence Will Develop Drones For Swiss Defence Firm Skysec
Diehl Defence collaborates with Skysec Defence under a new agreement to enhance drone defense capabilities for military use.

Zurich VC Lakestar Secures $600 Million In New Funds

12 April 2024
Zurich VC Lakestar Secures $600 Million In New Funds
Lakestar successfully closes two new funds, accumulating $600 million, to advance Europe's digital sovereignty.

Stay in Touch!

Noteworthy

Lucerne Asset Manager Jailed For Years
Lucerne Asset Manager Jailed For Years
17 April 2024
Switzerland Moves to Ban Extremist Symbols
Switzerland Moves to Ban Extremist Symbols
17 April 2024