As previously reported here, Geoffrey Gurtner, MD, a microsurgeon at Stanford Hospital & Clinics, and colleagues have developed a sutureless method of reconnecting severed blood vessels that appears to be faster, safer and easier than the conventional method. The Stanford team's new technique is featured today in a Technology Review story:
When Gurtner took a post at Stanford University, he partnered with a group of Stanford chemical engineers and biomaterials experts who adapted a substance called Poloxymer 407, which is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for internal use, to do the job.
The trick was to tweak the properties of the substance so that it changes from a liquid to a solid state a few degrees above body temperature. The group used a halogen lamp to heat up the area around a severed blood vessel in rats, added the poloxymer, and then sealed the two ends with surgical glue.
. . .The group tested the technique in rats: in the aorta, as well as in some tiny, hard-to-reach, and oddly angled blood vessels. Not only was it five times faster than hand-sewing, the animals also had less scarring and inflammation up to two years later.