Sealant closes wounds and hinders bacterial infection

A new joining material for laser welding tissue during operations has the potential to produce stronger seals and provide an alternative to sutures and stapling in intestinal surgery, scientists report.

Their study, which involves use of a gold-based sealing material, appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Kaushal Rege and colleagues from Arizona State University explained in a statement that laser tissue welding (LTW) is a stitch-free surgical method for connecting and sealing blood vessels, cartilage in joints, the liver, the urinary tract and other tissues.

LTW involves use of laser light to heat tissue, causing changes that enable the sides of incisions to seal. Advantages of LTW over sutures or staples include shorter operation times and reduced scarring.

A drawback of LTW is that it forms weak seals that can be problematic in intestinal surgery; leaks from the intestines can cause extremely painful and life-threatening abdominal infections.

The scientists set out to develop an improved form of LTW that produces strong seals.

They describe the development and successful laboratory tests of the material, a tissue solder called a plasmonic nanocomposite that is cross linked with gold nanorods.

The gold nanorods are wrapped inside a material that makes it more elastic so it can move with the body.

They found that when the material was used as a light-activated solder for laser-welding cuts in pig intestines, it formed a strong, liquid-tight but elastic seal, preventing bacteria from leaking out.

‘Taken together, these plasmonic nanocomposites are exciting materials for laser-based tissue repair,’ the researchers said.

They now plan to investigate these materials in animals with intestinal injuries.