Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen have developed a laser-based suturing device purposed for minimally invasive surgery. The idea is based on the laser welding process that is commonly used for plastics. Here the suture material is one of the two pieces to be welded together, the other one is the sleeve, which is located in the tip of the device. The process, as described in the press release:
First, the surgeons access the abdominal cavity through a small tube – the experts call it a trocar. After they pierce the tissue with a needle, they pull the end of the suture material out with the surgical forceps, through the trocar, and clip it into the sleeve. A defined tension can be set for the suture by pushing the sleeve through the trocar and simultaneously tensioning the suture. Once the desired tension has been achieved, the suture material is welded to the sleeve by laser. The laser is located at the end of the suturing instrument, the laser beam is sent via the light conducting fiber through the instrument. The superfluous suturing material is cut off behind the sleeve. And, as a last step, the surgeons pull the suturing instrument out through the trocar. After the lasering, the sleeve remains in the abdominal cavity. Schütte remarked: “Currently, the sleeve consists of polypropylene, in the future we would like to manufacture it from resorbing materials.“
The suturing is done with a previously set, predefined tension and should be faster than traditional suturing. So far testing has happened in the laboratory, where suture tensions of zero to five newtons and a lasering time of 0.1 seconds were reached. Preclinical studies are planned to start later this year.
Press release: Minimally invasive surgeries: Laser Suturing…