Portable device spins custom dressings onto wounds
It can be difficult for people such as army medics, carrying an assortment of bandages in every shape and size that they're likely to need. Thanks to recent research, however, they may one day simply be able to spray medication-laced fiber dressings directly onto wounds.
The dressing-spraying process would involve the use of a portable electrospinning device – and scientists at Montana Technological University have created a prototype version of just such a gadget.
In a nutshell, electrospinning utilizes electric force to draw charged threads of polymer solutions out into long, thin fibers. Because of the high voltages required, though, there's ordinarily an electrical shock risk involved in spinning material directly onto living biological tissue. That's where the portable system comes in.
The electrical field that it uses to spin the fibers is contained within the device, where it can't come into contact with the patient. Instead, a jet of air is used to eject those fibers out of a nozzle and onto the skin, where they form a protective mat over the wound. A variety of biocompatible polymers could be used, mixed within the device with controlled-release drugs that would facilitate the healing process.
So far, the prototype has successfully been used to treat an incision in a pig's skin, and to deposit a dressing on a gloved human hand. Once developed further, it is hoped that the technology could be utilized in remote locations such as rural areas or battlefields, that lack full medical facilities.
A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B.