Minimally invasive surgeries using an endoscope are exacting and require special capabilities of the surgeon. The suturing of the tissue and the setting of the knots, in particular, is very complicated due to the lack of space for movement. A team led by Adrian Schütte, Fraunhofer Institute, Aachen, Germany, has developed a suturing tool which simplifies the procedure. It allows the suture material to be welded with a laser rather than knotted.
The semi-automatic process enables the surgeon to connect the suture material with a set, predefined tension, removing human error from the process. The suture material is attached to a polypropylene sleeve. The tension is set by pushing the sleeve through the trocar (small tube used to access the abdominal cavity) and simultaneously tensioning the suture. Once the desired tension has been achieved, the suture material is welded to the sleeve by a laser located in the tip of the suturing device.
In laboratory tests, the best results were achieved with a suture tension of zero to five Newton and a lasering time of 0.1 s. The device is due to start preclinical studies later this year at the Aachen university hospital.