Aachen, Germany — A research and development firm here is about enter the testing phase on a minimally invasive suturing tool that will allow surgeons to laser-weld sutures rather than knotting them, Medical News Today reports.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology in Aachen have developed a semiautomatic suturing instrument with which surgeons will be able to connect suture material at a predefined tension. The manufacturer claims the tool will simplify and shorten the suturing process in addition to hastening healing of the wound.
Initial plans call for the instrument to be used in minimally invasive abdominal procedures. Researchers say they are confident that the tool can be adapted to more delicate surgeries, such as “keyhole” heart procedures.
Medical News Today describes how the tool would work in an abdominal procedure:
First, the surgeon accesses the abdominal cavity through a small tube called a trocar. After piercing the tissue with a needle, the surgeon pulls the end of the suture out with forceps and through the trocar, and clips it into a sleeve.
Suture tension is set by pushing the sleeve through the trocar and tensioning the suture simultaneously. Once the desired tension is achieved, the surgeon activates a laser at the end of the tool and welds the suture to the sleeve. Superfluous suturing material is cut off behind the sleeve, and, as a last step, the surgeon pulls the suturing tool out through the trocar. The sleeve, to be manufactured from resorbing material, would remain in the abdominal cavity.
Pre-clinical studies are scheduled to start later this year. The company will display a prototype of the suturing instrument at the MEDTEC Europe Fair, to be held March 22-24 in Stuttgart, Germany.