Abdominal surgery itself is pretty invasive and comes with a number of potential complications. Many of these complications – some serious – arise as a result of poor suturing. That’s because suturing the abdominal wall requires piercing through a layer of muscle called the fascia, which doctors liken to pushing a needle through a leather shoe. Accidentally puncturing a vital organ, such as the bowel, can lead to a sepsis infection. Moreover, if an incision isn’t closed properly, patients can develop herniation and evisceration.
To address these problems, biomedical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University have developed a disposable tool they call “FastStitch”. Looking somewhat like the ends of a set of jumper cables, FastStitch is described as a cross between pliers and a hole puncher. To use it, you place the fascial layer of one side of the incision in between the top and bottom “jaws.” Next, you close the arms, which causes a spring-loaded clamp to effortlessly punch a needle located on the jaws (already threaded with surgical suture) through the fascial layer, similar to the way a hole puncher works. Because the needle is always kept between the jaws of FastStitch, there’s no risk of it puncturing vital organs. The tool also has a visual guide to ensure that sutures are placed evenly and at the proper distance from the incision and from each other.
Take a look at the video below to see how FastStitch works:
More info from Johns Hopkins University: Could FastStitch Device, Invented by Undergrads, Be the Future of Suture?