Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Temporary Tube

A 3D printed stent that makes suturing together tiny vessels simpler and then melts away

11 February 2019

Temporary Tube

Surgeons are masterful at suturing – stitching tissues together – but even the most skilful doctor might find it difficult to sew together the ends of two tiny, slippery, squishy tubes – as is required when pairing together blood vessels during, say, an organ transplant or reconstructive surgery. To make such tasks easier and therefore faster researchers have developed a stent (pictured) that fits inside the ends of each tube offering a reinforced and more rigid structure to work with. Leaving such a stent inside the vessels is not ideal, however, so this new device is designed to magically melt away. The stent, which has so far been tested in pig arteries, can be 3D printed on demand and is fabricated from a type of sugar – sturdy enough for the surgeon to complete the procedure, but soluble enough to diffuse into the bloodstream in a matter of minutes.

Written by Ruth Williams

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