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Could FastStitch device be the future of suture?
Date:8/16/2012

After a surgeon stitches up a patient's abdomen, costly complications -- some life-threatening -- can occur. To cut down on these postoperative problems, Johns Hopkins undergraduates have invented a disposable suturing tool to guide the placement of stitches and guard against the accidental puncture of internal organs.

The student inventors have described their device, called FastStitch, as a cross between a pliers and a hole-puncher. Although the device is still in the prototype stage, the FastStitch team has already received recognition and raised more than $80,000 this year in grant and prize money to move their project forward. Among their wins were first-place finishes in University of California, Irvine, and University of Maryland business plan competitions and in the ASME International Innovation Showcase.

The FastStitch device is needed, the students say, to improve the way up to 5 million open abdominal surgeries are conducted annually in the United States alone for treatment of cancer, liver problems and other common ailments. If incisions from those procedures are not closed properly, a patient can develop complications such as infection, herniation and evisceration, all of which require additional treatment and in some cases, more surgery. Just one of these complications --herniation, in which intestinal tissue can protrude through the abdominal wall after the muscle layer splits apart -- leads to $2.5 billion in additional costs annually in follow-up treatment and medical malpractice expenses, the students said.

Addressing this problem became a biomedical engineering course assignment for eight Johns Hopkins students over the past school year. They were asked to design and test a tool that that would improve the way surgeons stitch together the strongest part of the abdomen, the muscle layer called the fascia, which is located just below the patient's skin. "Doctors who have to suture the fascial layer say it can be like p
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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