One of the biggest challenges of craniofacial surgery is preventing the spread of postoperative infection. The face is exposed and regularly comes in contact with patients’ hands, hats, eating utensils, and food residue. Moreover, the anatomy of the head features sinuses and other complex structures that can propagate infections from the outside. To prevent the onset of bacterial infection, researchers at Rice University have developed a new way to release antibiotics from the very implants that are used in complex craniofacial reconstructive surgeries.
These days a great deal of such procedures involve a multi-step process of fixing and healing soft tissue before the bones are reconstructed. During the soft tissue stage, spacers made of porous polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) take the the space of bones while the soft tissue around heals. Since patients at this stage are particularly susceptible to infections, the Rice researchers have developed a way of filling the pores of the PMMA material with an antibiotic releasing thermogel in order to prevent bacterial invasion.
The thermogel is liquid at room temperature and is injected into the pores, and is then heated up and solidifies at body temperature, staying inside the pores. It would then slowly break up when implanted into the body, releasing the antibiotic into surrounding tissue and preventing an infection from taking hold. So far the researchers tested the action of the drug delivery system in the laboratory, specifically using colistin as the antibiotic. The next steps will include trialing the technology on animals and humans, but it’s certainly already promising.
Source: Rice University…