Super-Strong Surgical Tape Can Be Used on Internal Organs and Is Removed in 5 Minutes

MIT researchers made the tape is strong yet easily removable so that it could be used for treating internal organs.
Fabienne Lang
The tape could be used on internal organsMIT

In a bid to try and change the world of sutures in medicine, MIT researchers have developed a super-strong surgical tape that not only binds to the wound extremely well, but can also be removed within five minutes. 

This could revolutionize medicine and help recoveries post-surgery become a much smoother and pain-free process. 

Their findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Strong and easy

The MIT team has further developed its double-sided adhesive surgical tape from last year, which could rapidly and strongly stick to wet surfaces like on biological tissues. Lungs and intestines suffering rips could easily be bandaged up with this tape. 

However, the team has improved its tape so it can now be removed without causing any damage. By applying a liquid onto the tape, the new tape can now be removed much like a slippery gel in five minutes. This will prove useful during surgery if the tape needs to be adjusted, or post-surgery when the wound has healed. 

"This is like a painless Band-Aid for internal organs," said Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT. "You put the adhesive on, and if for any reason you want to take it off, you can do so on-demand, without pain."

Super-Strong Surgical Tape Can Be Used on Internal Organs and Is Removed in 5 Minutes
How the tape works and how it's removed, Source: MIT

Instead of going through the not-so-comfortable process of having sutures put in and then taken out, this could be a fantastic alternative — or replacement, as the team hopes.

As the team had created an ultra-strong adhesive to hold onto slippery and moist biological tissues, it was tricky to remove it easily and without causing any further damage to the area it was holding together.

So they added a new disulfide linker molecule to their original adhesive so that it would become more easily detachable. The molecule was then synthesized so that it couldn't be easily severed. Finally, the team mixed a concoction of glutathione and sodium bicarbonate together into a saline solution, which, once sprayed onto samples of the adhesive that was placed on organ and tissue specimens, removed the tape in five minutes. 

Regardless of how long the adhesive had been in place, it only ever took five minutes and caused no tissue damage. 

"Our hope is that some day, operating rooms can have dispensers of these adhesives, alongside bottles of triggering solution," one of the first co-authors Hyunwoo Yuk explained. "Surgeons can use this like Scotch tape, applying, detaching, and reapplying it on demand."

It certainly sounds like a simpler solution for both medical teams and patients.

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