Minimally invasive surgeries are generally performed via small incisions using miniature cameras. Surgical tools are threaded through the body to remove tumors and make repairs in the body. But it can be difficult to properly seal an internal wound or tear. Taking inspiration from origami, MIT engineers have designed a medical patch that can be folded around small surgical tools and delivered through narrow spaces to patch up internal injuries.
The patch resembles a foldable, paper-like film when dry, but when it makes contact with moisture, such as in wet tissues or organs, it transforms into a stretchy gel that can stick to an injured site. The team’s new tape is also designed to resist contamination when exposed to bacteria and bodily fluids. Eventually, the patch will safely biodegrade.
“This patch technology spans many fields,” adds co-author Christoph Nabzdyk, a cardiac anesthesiologist and critical care physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “This could be used to repair a perforation from a coloscopy, or seal solid organs or blood vessels after a trauma or elective surgical intervention. Instead of having to carry out a full open surgical approach, one could go from the inside to deliver a patch to seal a wound at least temporarily and maybe even long-term.”
The study’s co-authors include lead authors Sarah Wu and Hyunwoo Yuk, and Jingjing Wu at MIT. The team has published its results in the journal Advanced Materials. The research was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.