Fight pain without drugs
A small, soft and flexible implant has now been developed that is capable of doing this To relieve pain when needed without the use of drugs. After use, the device is simply turned off body absorbed.
In a new study involving experts from Northwestern University an implantable, bioabsorbable, microfluidic device was presented, which allows a targeted and minimally invasive intervention cooling down at any depth in living tissue Real-time temperature control allows.
The results of the study were published in the English-language journal Science.
Cooling numbs the nerves
The biocompatible, water-soluble device is only at its widest point five millimeters wide. Gently envelops the nerves, providing precise and targeted cooling that numbs the nerves and the Block pain signals to the brainexplain the researchers.
No side effects
Since the device is very precise and affects only the desired nerve, the surrounding regions are not unnecessarily cooled, which means that it is possible side effects avoided the research team continues. It is also possible to use an external pump for increase or decrease the intensity.
The device is absorbed by the body
The components of the new device are biocompatible. In other words, once it is no longer needed, it will naturally dissipate over the course of days or weeks absorbed by the body’s biological fluidsmaking surgical removal unnecessary.
Relieves pain after surgery
The device could be particularly beneficial to people who are Routine surgery or even amputations undergo surgery that often requires postoperative medications.
Cooling may already be surgically implanted during the procedure to do this postoperative pain of patients, the team explains.
“As engineers, we are guided by the idea of treating pain without drugs, in a way that can be turned on and off instantly, with the user in control of the intensity of the relief.“, underlines the author of the study John A. Rogers in a press release.
The new technology uses mechanisms similar to those that lead to Fingers feel numb when cold. The implant allows to generate this effect directly and locally on target nerves, even those deep in the surrounding soft tissues, in a programmable way.
How do the nerves cool?
The device is based on the concept of evaporation On. Similar to how the evaporation of sweat cools the body, the device contains a cooling liquidwhich is vaporized at the specific site of a sensory nerve, adds the expert.
In order for the cooling effect to occur, the device contains so-called tiny microfluidic channels in which cooling liquid (perfluoropentane) is present. A second channel contains dry nitrogen.
When liquid and gas flow into a common chamber, a reaction occurs that immediately evaporates the liquid and creates a cooling effect, the researchers explain.
“When a nerve cools, the signals traveling along the nerve slow down, eventually stop altogether‘”adds the study author Dr. Matthew MacEwan of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Which nerves are targeted?
“We specifically target the peripheral nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. These are the nerves that transmit sensory stimuli, including pain‘said the doctor.
Targeted cooling of one or two nerves can effectively modulate pain signals in a specific region of the body Dr. MacEwan.
The sensor prevents tissue damage caused by hypothermia
A tiny built-in sensor monitors them Temperatur des Nervs. So you can be sure that the nerve doesn’t get too cold because of this tissue damage could cause.
“Excessive cooling can damage the nerve and the delicate tissues surrounding it. The duration and temperature of the cooling must therefore be precisely controlled“, has explained Rogers.
The flow rate (and therefore the cooling) is automatically adjusted to reach such a point Stops pain reversibly and safely.
“You don’t want to inadvertently cool other nerves or tissues unrelated to the nerve carrying the painful stimuli. We want to block the pain signals, not the nerves that control motor skills and allow you to use your hand, for example“, points out MacEwan.
Eliminate painful stimuli with electrical stimulation?
In the past, nerve blockers have already been studied electrical stimulation turn off painful stimuli. However, problems have arisen.
Therefore “it is not possible to turn off a nerve with electrical stimulation without first activating it. This can cause additional pain or muscle twitching and is not ideal from the patient’s point of view‘MacEwan reports. The new device offers a better alternative here. (how)
Information on the author and source
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by medical professionals.
- Jonathan T. Reeder, Zhaoqian Xie, Quansan Yang, Min-Ho Seo, Ying Yan Yujun Deng, et al .: Soft, bioabsorbable coolers for reversible peripheral nerve conduction block; in: Science (veröffentlicht 30.06.2022), Science
- Northwestern University: Dissolution of the implantable device relieves pain without drugs (veröffentlicht 30.06.2022), Northwestern University
This article contains general advice only and is not to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.