Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Smart Sutures

PostedMarch 31, 2013

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Anchor Lede: The sutures that close your wounds soon might also monitor for and treat infections.

Randy Atkins: That’s possible because of an engineering advance that allows high-quality silicon electronics to not only be embedded in plastic or silk suture material, but…

John Rogers: …it’s really electronics you can tie in a knot, and that was one of the main technical hurdles we had to overcome.

Randy Atkins: John Rogers, a University of Illinois engineer, says the sutures can precisely measure temperatures that can signal infection and also deliver heat to specific locations.

John Rogers: We have micro-heaters. So we can define very specific changes in temperature configured to eliminate bacteria.

Randy Atkins: The sutures are now controlled and powered by a small external wire connection that fits under a bandage, but might one day be entirely disconnected.

John Rogers: Our vision is that these things would be smart enough to figure out what to do on their own.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The system is about two years away from tests in humans.