Researchers have developed a surgical sealant equipped with built-in sensors to detect leaks after stomach or bowel surgery. These leaks, a common cause of fatality following bariatric surgery, are often diagnosed too late. The innovative sealant enables quicker leak detection through standard imaging techniques like ultrasound and CT scans.

During gastric surgery, a connection between stomach or intestine sections is created, but if this connection fails, leaks can occur, potentially leading to dangerous complications.

Current diagnosis of these leaks relies on clinical symptoms when they are already advanced, increasing the risk of life-threatening infections. The new sensor technology offers early detection by reacting to leaking gastric fluids.

The sensors utilize carbonate salts that decompose in acidic stomach juices, releasing carbon dioxide gas. This gas is trapped in a hydrogel used to seal the surgical site. The gas alters the sound speed within the sealant, making the leak visible as a brighter spot in ultrasound and a darker spot in CT scans.

The researchers conducted various tests to determine sensitivity, specificity, and safety, and they applied the sensor sealant to porcine stomach tissue, detecting leaks with both ultrasound and CT scans.

Different sensor configurations, such as concentric circles, were also explored to facilitate detection. When exposed to gastric acid, the outer circle would break down, leaving behind a detectable ring during imaging.

The researchers believe this technology could make gastrointestinal surgery safer by enabling early detection of leaks, reducing patient risk. Furthermore, the sensors are detectable even with low-radiation CT scans, allowing for frequent monitoring.

Future research will involve testing the device in settings that more closely resemble patient experiences.

Article written by Sukanya Charuchandra



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