Swiss patch warns of leaks in the stomach after operations

A patch developed by Swiss researchers provides early warning of leaks at sutures in the gastrointestinal tract. The novel patch should significantly reduce the risk of life-threatening complications after abdominal surgery.

Until now, leaks in sutures, for example in the intestine, were usually only discovered when the affected patients showed physical reactions. As soon as the abdomen was closed again after an operation, one was blind, as the researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (Empa) announced.

They have therefore equipped their patch with non-electronic sensors that indicate before digestive juices can escape into the abdominal cavity. The sensors consist of special protein structures or salts that react either to changes in the pH value caused by escaping stomach acid or to certain enzymes in the intestine. When these sensor elements come into contact with digestive juices, their structure changes.

Doctors can detect the change with ultrasound and computer tomography (CT) without having to cut open the abdomen for it. The intestinal patch could thus not only reduce the risk of complications after abdominal surgery, but also shorten hospital stays and save on healthcare costs.

Written by: sda

Photos: Empa

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