Successes in degradable surgical implants
Currently just 5% of the Government’s medical research budget is earmarked for the development of surgery procedures and techniques. A surprisingly low figure given that around 10 million surgeries are performed by the NHS each year. Despite this, researchers at Oxford University have announced the development of a degradable surgical implant which will dramatically enhance surgical success rates.
The research team have created a plaster-like implant which wraps around wound and acts as a splint-like support. It is made from a woven material that is produced from thread that is a hundred times finer than human hair.
In a young and healthy human body, cells automatically fuse together and re-build after a trauma such as surgery. However, as we age our cells are less able to self-repair. The fine threads of the new implant work so as to encourage cells to grip and bond, as they would do naturally in a younger person, speeding up the healing process.
Another benefit is that the implant breaks down and disappears from the body within a few months. This is a major development, as the body can reject foreign objects which can lead to complications or a patient having an implant in their body for the rest of their lives.
The implant is being lab tested and clinical trials on patients are due to start in the next couple of months. Although initially only to be used in surgery involving soft tissue, such as tendon repairs, the researchers believe the patch may eventually be used to repair other areas, such as cartilage, hernias and heart defects.
The Oxford University group are to be congratulated on the creation of this surgical aid which could be of potential benefit to thousands of patients across England and Wales each year and at a low cost.