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Study: Dissolvable Implants May Be the New Way to Monitor Potential TBIs

If you undergo any sort of operation, there’s a good chance that the stitches used by the surgical staff will be dissolvable, meaning that you won’t have to worry about making a separate appointment to have them removed in a few weeks or months.

As revolutionary as this might sound to someone who rarely sees the inside of a hospital or operating room, dissolvable stitches, which are typically made of collagen materials and broken down by the body’s immune system, have actually been around for many years. Interestingly enough, however, there is now a push to take this concept of dissolvable medical tools to the next level.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently conducted a study in which they used an implantable — and fully dissolvable — electronic sensor roughly the size of a grain of rice to measure the temperature and intracranial pressure of a group of rats either post-brain surgery or following the onset of a traumatic brain injury.

In general, these two readings, which are vital in TBI cases, are taken via externally hardwired systems that must be surgically implanted. This process, of course, leaves patients susceptible to everything from bleeding and infections to allergic reactions.

In the study, the researchers simply implanted the dissolvable sensor in the space under the skin and atop the skull of the lab rats, while also outfitting them with traditional surgically implanted monitors.

They determined that the information on temperature and intracranial pressure transmitted wirelessly by the dissolvable sensor was the exact same as that provided by the traditional monitors.

“Our devices eliminate the wired interface and the need for surgical extraction,” said one of the study’s co-authors. “The outcome greatly reduces the risk for the patient, without any sacrifices in the accuracy or precision of the monitoring data.”

While the researchers indicated that they are still a long way from rolling out the dissolvable sensors to hospital ORs, they were optimistic about moving ahead with human trials.

This is truly a fascinating medical development. Here’s hoping that it will be available to help treat those who suffer TBIs because of the recklessness of another sooner than later.