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Surgical Sealant with Integrated Shape-Morphing Dual Modality Ultrasound and Computed Tomography Sensors for Gastric Leak Detection

Publication at Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen |


Postoperative anastomotic leaks are the most feared complications after gastric surgery. For diagnostics clinicians mostly rely on clinical symptoms such as fever and tachycardia, often developing as a result of an already fully developed, i.e., symptomatic, surgical leak.

A gastric fluid responsive, dual modality, electronic-free, leak sensor system integrable into surgical adhesive suture support materials is introduced. Leak sensors contain high atomic number carbonates embedded in a polyacrylamide matrix, that upon exposure to gastric fluid convert into gaseous carbon dioxide (CO(2) ).

CO(2) bubbles remain entrapped in the hydrogel matrix, leading to a distinctly increased echogenic contrast detectable by a low-cost and portable ultrasound transducer, while the dissolution of the carbonate species and the resulting diffusion of the cation produces a markedly reduced contrast in computed tomography imaging. The sensing elements can be patterned into a variety of characteristic shapes and can be combined with nonreactive tantalum oxide reference elements, allowing the design of shape-morphing sensing elements visible to the naked eye as well as artificial intelligence-assisted automated detection.

In summary, shape-morphing dual modality sensors for the early and robust detection of postoperative complications at deep tissue sites, opening new routes for postoperative patient surveillance using existing hospital infrastructure is reported.