Sutures have evolved manifold with modern medicine though they have remained but a passive part of the surgical and healing process till now. However, a new “smart” suture developed by a University of Illinois professor is promising to make them an active contributor to the medical process. Professor John Rogers has developed a new kind of suture that comes with ultrathin sensors embedded within it. These sensors are several hundred nanometers thick and are made of gold wires and silicon membranes. To form the sutures, silk or polymer strips are used to embed the sensors. Since the sutures have to be sewn on tight, the sensors need to be implanted in a flexible winding design.
At the moment, only two kinds of smart sutures have been developed- ones that can sense the temperature of the wound they are stitched around and others which can emit a degree of warmth to the spot they have been stitched into and can promote healing. The sutures with thermometer sensors in them can help detect infection at an early stage since the onset of an infection is indicated by a rise in temperature. These heat-emitting sutures come with a platinum nanomembrane resistor.
The sutures are being developed by by Professor Rogers' company MC10. The smart sutures are still undergoing clinical trials on lab rats and the company is working on developing sutures that can be laced with some form of wireless technology and ones that can be infused with drugs which can be released on command.