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Fluorescent smart stitches could reduce infections

What's New? | February 27, 2023 | By:

A new antimicrobial suture material could provide a promising alternative for mesh implants and internal stitches. Science Daily reports that researchers at RMIT University (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Australia have developed an antimicrobial suture material that glows in medical imaging. 

As surgical site infections are among the most common, the new material could provide a promising alternative for mesh implants and internal stitches. Lab tests on the surgical filament, published in OpenNano, showed it was easily visible in CT scans when threaded through samples of chicken meat, even after three weeks. It also showed strong antimicrobial properties, killing 99 percent of highly drug-resistant bacteria after six hours at body temperature.

Study lead author Dr Shadi Houshyar said the team was not aware of any commercially available suture products that combined these properties. “Our smart surgical sutures can play an important role in preventing infection and monitoring patient recovery,” said Houshyar. 

The suture’s properties come from the combination of iodine and tiny nanoparticles, called carbon dots, throughout the material. Carbon dots are inherently fluorescent, due to their particular wavelength, but they can also be tuned to various levels of luminosity that easily stand out from surrounding tissue in medical imaging. Attaching iodine to these carbon dots provides them with their strong antimicrobial properties and greater X-ray visibility.

Houshyar said carbon nano dots were safe, cheap and easy to produce in the lab from natural ingredients. “They can be tailored to create biodegradable stitches or a permanent suture, or even to be adhesive on one side only, where required,” she said. “This project opens up a lot of practical solutions for surgeons, which has been our aim from the start and the reason we have involved clinicians in the study.”

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