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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Could a 'welding torch' banish the caesarean scar? 

New technique could spell end of staples and stitches


  • An Israeli firm has developed a method of ‘welding’ together surgical wounds
  • Mothers-to-be undergoing c-sections could be among the first to benefit
  • Plasma is channelled through a pen-like device to close wounds smoothly

DAILY MAIL 16 June 2013


Women having caesarean sections could soon be saying goodbye to staples, stitches and unsightly scars – thanks to a medical version of a welding torch.

An Israeli firm has developed a stitch and staple-free method of ‘welding’ together surgical wounds which it claims creates neater joins.

It says that mothers-to-be undergoing c-sections could be among the first to benefit, with treatments carried out as soon as this autumn.

The company says that it takes just three or four minutes to seal a c-section wound and that scarring is minimal
The company says that it takes just three or four minutes to seal a c-section wound and that scarring is minimal

It is hoped the new way of closing wounds will also be suitable for burns victims and cosmetic surgery patients.

IonMed’s device is based on plasma – a charged form of gas normally only seen in lightning bolts and in the intense light produced by welding torches.

The plasma used in the BioWeld gadget is much cooler, ensuring it does not damage delicate tissue. At around 40C it is hot enough to make the skin tingle but not cause pain.

However, it still produces a very powerful flame and when channelled through the tip of a pen-like device, it welds a thin film of specially-designed material – based on a naturally occurring sugar – over the wound, closing it. It is hoped eventually the thin film can be dispensed with and the powerful plasma alone will be enough to seal wounds.

In three clinical trials on women undergoing c-sections, in which an eight-inch incision is made along the bikini line, the wounds healed better than the stitches and staples currently in use. The company says that it takes just three or four minutes to seal a c-section wound and that scarring is minimal.

Mothers-to-be undergoing c-sections could be among the first to benefit, with treatments carried out as soon as this autumn

The gas is also said to encourage the growth of blood vessels, ensuring the area that was operated on receives a good supply of blood. It is also anti-bacterial, so should reduce the risk of wounds becoming infected.

Although many c-section wounds that are sealed by stitches or staples heal well, a recent study found that up to 44 per cent of women still had a raised, red scar six months on.

Gian Carlo Di Renzo, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in Perugia in Italy, described BioWeld’s results as ‘very encouraging’.

He added: ‘As surgeons, we seek better ways to connect tissue, to minimise damage to healthy tissue and obtain better clinical and cosmetic results for patients.’

Ronen Lam, vice president of business development at IonMed, the company behind BioWeld, said: ‘No one has done this before.

‘Using plasma enhances the complex wound healing process.

‘Doctors can learn how to use this very quickly. There is almost no learning curve.’

BioWeld was invented by Ronen Lam’s brother Amnon, who was a medic in the Israeli army before becoming a project manager at a firm that uses cold plasma to create semiconductors. He came up with the idea of combining his combat medical experience with cold plasma technology.

The company has submitted documentation for approval so that BioWeld can be used by doctors and hospitals in Europe.

It says approval process should take a matter of months, meaning the new system could available for use on patients by the autumn.

Hospitals will have to pay around £2,500 for the equipment, plus around £10 to £15 for the kit needed for each caesarean operation.

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