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Wireless Electronic Suture Enables Postoperative Long-Term Monitoring Of Soft Tissue

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 May 2024
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Image: A suture-type electronic component can wirelessly monitor vital signs in the body (Photo courtesy of DGIST)
Image: A suture-type electronic component can wirelessly monitor vital signs in the body (Photo courtesy of DGIST)

In recent years, the aging of the global population and the emergence of various pandemics have heightened the demand for medical devices designed for monitoring and managing health conditions. Particularly, the growing popularity of sports culture has led to an increase in orthopedic injuries, such as ligament and tendon ruptures, intensifying the need for precise, quantitative monitoring of tissue recovery during rehabilitation. However, achieving this level of monitoring has been difficult due to technical constraints. Now, a breakthrough has been made with the development of a new suture-type electronic component that can wirelessly monitor vital signs within the body, promising significant advancements in orthopedic and medical rehabilitation, tailored to individual patient needs.

Developed by researchers at DGIST (Daegu, South Korea), this innovative electronic suture system is implantable and wireless, designed to be seamlessly integrated into various orthopedic applications, including personalized rehabilitation plans. The system resembles a conventional medical suture used to close wounds but functions as a wireless strain sensor. This electronic suture combines a medical needle with a thread that not only sutures the wound but also acts as an electronic device, enabling precise monitoring without imposing any additional burden on the patient. The sensor operates remotely without the need for a separate chip or battery, making it practical for medical use.

The device is coated with a special oil film technology to minimize immune reactions, ensuring its stable operation over long periods. Its ease of application, similar to that of regular sutures, adds to its practicality in clinical settings. Moreover, once the sensor is affixed within the sutured area, it maintains stability and functionality for extended periods within the body, offering a solution to previously encountered stability issues. The researchers have tested this system on a porcine model with an Achilles tendon rupture, monitoring the mechanical property changes in the tissue throughout a 10-week recovery period. The findings revealed that this wireless electronic suture successfully provided quantitative assessments of the tendon's repair process, demonstrating its potential to revolutionize the way orthopedic injuries are monitored and managed.

“By developing wireless sensor devices in the form of medical sutures that are familiar in the medical field, we have brought them closer to real-world applications,” said DGIST Professor Jaehong Lee. “Starting with this research, we hope to pioneer a new path in the field of human-embedded healthcare devices by developing a range of electronic sutures with multiple functions.”

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