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Flexibility brings comfort and safety

Author: Kerstin Pawlowsky and Dr. Steve Gotzen Published at:

Up to one in five patients who have surgery within their abdominal region suffer an incisional hernia.¹ This is when a defect forms in the abdominal wall and part of the intestine slips into the hole. The gap usually forms within one year of the operation and can range from a few millimeters up to 30 centimeters in length. As a result, many patients report severe pain when breathing or moving around. And even worse, the intestine can strangulate itself in the hernia which usually requires an emergency surgical procedure.

At the moment, the standard treatment involves implanting a large piece of fabric, known as a mesh, to cover the hole and strengthen the tissue. It takes over the role of the abdominal wall and stops the intestine from entering the hole – removing the source of pain. Mesh structures are an essential material for modern surgical practices, widely used within patients worldwide every year.

The abdominal membrane is very soft and supple, constantly shifting position as the patient breathes or moves around. The stitches or staples that are commonly used to hold mesh in place aren’t flexible enough to adjust to this constant shifting – which means patients frequently experience severe pain at the site of the stitches or tacks following a hernia operation.

Our experts at Adhesys Medical are working on a surgical adhesive that could provide hernia patients with relief from this complication. The glue is derived from our patented polyurethane based adhesive technology platform – called VIVO – that’s specially designed for use inside the body. With its elastic property, the glue offers a major potential improvement on stitches and staples. Together with MEDMIX, our team is also working on a laparoscopic device that enables surgeons to apply the glue even through minimally invasive surgery, which is known to reduce the risk of wound complications and infection.

Our researchers from Adhesys Medical have worked together with the FH Aachen, University of Applied Sciences to develop a process for characterizing various types of meshes that were provided by FEG Textiltechnik Forschungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH in regard of the interaction with glues of various viscosity. The technology has also been tested through pre-clinical trials at the University Hospital, RWTH Aachen University together with the Department of General-, Visceral- and Transplantation-surgery. The results of these research and testing activities are now being used to optimize the formula of our adhesive for safest mesh and tissue adherence.

VIVO has already received high-profile recognition of its potential impact for patients: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) awarded the technology a research grant to support the further development of the adhesive and the application device for hernia patients. If it continues to make progress through the required and projected trials, the surgical adhesive could provide a significant breakthrough for hernia patients – removing post-operative pain and giving them the freedom of movement that they deserve.

¹ Volker Schumpelick, Uwe Klinge, Raphael Rosch, and Karsten Junge; Light weight meshes in incisional hernia repair; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2999769/