A perforated organ doesn’t sound good, and it’s really, really not. If you’ve got a hole in one of your internal organs, you need it sealed quick. But until now, the only way to do that was to open you up, which is a bit counterproductive. So Harvard researchers came up with a new way to seal up your organs using lights and balloons.
Here’s the problem: Sealing organs right now often requires metal or plastic materials that can eat away at surrounding tissue. So, doctors engineered a patch that is biodegradable and serves as a scaffold for new tissue instead; as the tissue grows, the patch dissolves. The tricky part is sticking the thing to your organs in the first place.
The patch is coated in UV-activated glue and guided into place with a catheter. Once there, balloons on either side of the organ inflate, pressing the patch into place, and a light is shined on the patch, triggering the glue. Pull out the catheter and you’ve got an organ that is not leaking and will probably not kill you!
True, having a catheter run up your butt to seal a leaking colon is unlikely to be a fun experience, but it’s a lot safer than being cut open and losing blood while germs get a crack at your internal organs. There were nearly 750,000 health-care related infections in 2011 alone, and 10 percent of those were fatal. Anything that drives down those numbers is a good thing. So, in the future, don’t be surprised if this is your surgical consult: