Microwave Tissue Soldering For Traumatic Wounds

Microwave Tissue Soldering is a unique approach to the problem of sealing traumatic wounds. The technology was developed by Electromagnetic Systems Branch in the Engineering Directorate (EA) and the Biomedical Research and Countermeasures Projects Branch in the Space Life Sciences Directorate (SA) and USRA’s Division of Space Life Sciences.

(Muscle sealed with protein solder)

A portable microwave generator and hand-held antenna are used to seal wounds, binding the edges of the wound together using a biodegradable protein sealant or “solder”. This method could be used for repairing wounds in emergency settings, by restoring the wound surface to its original strength within minutes. This technique could also be utilized for surgical purposes involving solid visceral organs (i.e., liver, spleen, and kidney) that currently do not respond well to ordinary surgical procedures.

The experimental approach utilized was to produce a “test wound” in bovine muscle using a scalpel. Once the incision or cut was made, different candidate protein solders and varying microwave parameters/frequencies were tested for wound closure efficacy. To date, over 200 tests have been performed. Once sealed, the effectiveness of wound closure was measured using a tensile strength meter. Welds stronger than the uninjured (uncut) muscle have been consistently and precisely achieved.

Although this technology would have many applications here on Earth, it is being developed as a life-support technique for astronauts on Exploration Class missions to Mars.

That this device was developed for use in space is no surprise to science fiction fans, who recall advanced sfnal medical devices like the dermal regenerator (see picture) used to heal cuts and burns in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Old school Trek fans may even recall the Star Trek Protoplaser (see picture).

From USRA press release; thanks to Winchell Chung for the tip on and references for this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/20/2009)

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