Preventing Adhesions Following Surgery

USA TODAY, February 1993 | Go to article overview

Preventing Adhesions Following Surgery


Appendectomy patients generally dread the walk they must take the day after surgery to keep things from "growing together." A new substance being tested by University of Texas at Austin researchers could make such painful exercises unnecessary.

Jeffrey Hubbell, a chemical engineer who specializes in biomedical applications, is a co-inventor of a gel that promises to be the best material available for the prevention of post-operative adhesions. Such adhesions are a part of the natural healing process, but can be detrimental or even dangerous if an organ attaches to adjacent organs or other body tissues. The substance is a polyethylene glycol-based liquid that is designed to be poured on tissue surrounding the site of the surgical procedure. The area then is irradiated with light, which turns the liquid into a gel that biodegrades after a few weeks. While the gel is in the body, a slippery barrier is maintained between the organs, and no post-operative adhesions will occur.

In addition to appendectomies, the gel can have applications to many other procedures, including heart surgery and ovarian cyst removal. …

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