Radiopaque glue can seal wounds and guide surgery

Researchers in Korea have developed a nanoparticle-based surgical glue that can be used in place of stitches to close wounds, and which is visible on a range of medical scans.  

(Credit: IBS)

TSN, which has a shell made of silica (SiO2) and a core of radiopaque tantalum oxide (TaOx), has been created by scientists at Korea’s Centre for Nanoparticle Research, working alongside medical professionals from Seoul National University Hospital. SiO2 holds the tissue together, while TaOx provides contrast enhancement. According to the research team, the radiopaque adhesive shows up when using many common imaging techniques, such as fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and computed tomography (CT). Results from the teams surgical procedures on animal models are published in Nature Communications.

It’s a discovery that has the potential to help doctors carry out surgery more accurately, and could be particularly well suited to minimally invasive procedures such as bleeding embolisation, angioplasty, stent insertion, and biopsy. The researchers claim its properties were successfully tested in sealing a liver puncture and in conducting operations in moving organs, such as lungs and limbs.

“A plethora of surgical procedures create a liver puncture, which necessitates hemostasis to stop the bleeding,” said Shin Kwangsoo, the study’s first author. “These include operations frequently used in patients with chronic liver disease and liver cancer, such as: liver biopsy, percutaneous biliary drainage, portal vein embolisation, and portal vein angioplasty.”

As well as being the first nanoparticle-based tissue adhesive that can be seen on medical scans, TSN is more biocompatible than CA-Lp (cyanoacrylate and Lipiodol), an FDA-approved mixture of a tissue adhesive and radiopaque oil currently used in medical practice. While CA-Lp can often trigger an immune reaction and inflammation in the aftermath of an operation, TSN has yet to invoke these responses.

The team also found that the glue was stable in flexing muscles and moving organs. A fluorescent version of TSN was successfully used to guide the resection of lung cancer in a rat using a CT scan. According to the researchers, the opacity of TSN was high enough to be clearly distinguished from the nearby ribs and vertebrae.