Another New Technology Promises End For Staples And Stitches

We spotted a piece in Jewish Business News covering the tale of an Israeli firm which has developed a method of ‘welding’ together surgical wounds.

According to the article, Mothers-to-be undergoing caesarean sections could be among the first to benefit, with treatments carried out as soon as this year. It will also be suitable for burns victims and cosmetic surgery patients.

Background

People have tried welding, gluing, stapling, taping, you name it, but the good old suture is still here. Today’s subcutaneously inserted, absorbable sutures are a far cry from the old piece of silk. However the principle that stitching two wound edges together makes for the best, most adaptable and successful means of closure, still holds true for many procedures. It must do, otherwise the suture market would be succumbing even faster than the creeping death brought about about by the move to minimally invasive surgery.

So, no more staples, stitches or unsightly scars- so says the article– and it’s all thanks to IonMed’s innovative BioWeld1 “cold plasma” technology. The article, which can be found here, likens the device to being a “medical version of a welding torch” and, according to the company, it takes just three or four minutes to seal a wound and with minimal scarring.

So how does it work? Well, the technique involves welding a thin film of specially-designed natural sugar-based “plasma” over the wound, and closing it with tool operating at 40 degrees celsius. The Plasma is channelled through a pen-like device to close wounds smoothly and safely on the human body. The image (above) tells the tale really, the upper incision showing closure with metal staples after seven days, the lower being the result of closure with IonMed’s welding technique.

The company has so far had three successful clinical trials to test its new product. In the most recent trial, BioWeld1 was used to close the skin incisions of 16 women who underwent Caesarean sections. The company reported that several weeks later the wounds had all properly healed with the likelihood of complications such as infection were very low.

Our questions though, are the same as we direct at all such skin-closure technologies. Wound closure is a layered affair with skin being the last layer. This technology clearly only works on the skin layer, so we’re expecting someone to suture the underlying layers first and then turn to this equipment for the skin? And then there’s the cost. The capital equipment is projected to cost $3750 with the per case cost of plasma kit being $15 to $22. Is anyone going to fire up the welder when a ten buck stapler could have the job done in ten seconds?

Don’t get us wrong, we like it. But these are the harsh commercial realities the company is going to have to deal with, which is no doubt why it’s pitched itself at caesarians where the cosmetic result might swing things its way.

Regulatory status

The company anticipates receiving the CE mark of approval in Europe for their technology by the end of the year. After closing its next financial round, IonMed will begin a round of trials in Europe and the United States in order to receive approval from the US FDA and then go on to launch its next cold plasma-based product.

Source: Jewish Business News