Fight pain without drugs
A small, soft and flexible implant has now been developed which is able to To relieve pain when needed without the use of medication. After use, the device is simply powered off body absorbed.
In a new study involving experts from Northwestern University an implantable, bioresorbable, microfluidic device was presented, which allows a targeted, minimally invasive cooling at any depth in living tissue Real time temperature control allows.
The results of the study were published in the English-language journal “Science” released.
Cooling numbs the nerves
The biocompatible, water-soluble device is merely at its widest point five millimeters wide. It gently wraps around the nerves, providing precise, 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 only hits the desired nerve, the surrounding regions are not cooled unnecessarily, which means that possible side effects avoided the research team continues. It is also possible to use an external pump to increase or decrease intensity.
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.
Relieve pain after surgery
The device could be particularly beneficial for people who are Routine surgeries or even amputations undergo surgery that often requires postoperative medication.
The cooling could already be surgically implanted during the procedure in order to postoperative pain of the patients, explains the team.
„As engineers, we are driven by the idea of treating pain without drugs – in a way that can be toggled on and off instantly, with the user in control of the intensity of the relief“, emphasizes 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 makes it possible to generate this effect directly and locally on the target nerves, even those deep in the surrounding soft tissue, in a programmable way.
How are the nerves cooled?
The device builds on the concept of evaporation on. Similar to how evaporating sweat cools the body, the device contains a liquid coolantwhich is vaporized at the specific site of a sensory nerve, the expert adds.
In order for the cooling effect to occur, the device contains so-called tiny microfluidic channels in which liquid coolant (perfluoropentane) is present. A second channel contains dry nitrogen.
When the liquid and the gas flow into a common chamber, a reaction occurs, immediately evaporating the liquid and creating a cooling effect, the researchers explain.
„When you cool a nerve, the signals traveling down the nerve slow down — eventually stopping altogether‘” adds the author of the study 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 just one or two nerves can effectively modulate pain signals in a specific region of the body Dr. MacEwan.
Sensor prevents tissue damage from hypothermia
A tiny integrated sensor monitors them Temperatur des Nervs. So it can be ensured that the nerve does not get too cold because this tissue damage could cause.
„Too much cooling can damage the nerve and the delicate tissues around it. The duration and temperature of the cooling must therefore be precisely controlled“, explained Rogers.
The flow rate (and hence cooling) is automatically adjusted to reach a point that Blocks pain in a reversible and safe way.
„You don’t want to inadvertently cool other nerves or tissue unrelated to the nerve carrying the pain stimuli. We want to block the pain signals, not the nerves that control motor function and allow you to use your hand, for example“, emphasizes MacEwan.
Eliminate painful stimuli with electrical stimulation?
In the past, nerve blockers have already been researched that electrical stimulation turn off painful stimuli. However, problems arose.
Then “you cannot switch off a nerve with electrical stimulation without first activating it. This can cause additional pain or muscle contractions and is not ideal from the patient’s perspective‘ reports MacEwan. The new device offers a better alternative here. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of medical specialist literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- Jonathan T. Reeder, Zhaoqian Xie, Quansan Yang, Min-Ho Seo, Ying YanYujun Deng, et al.: Soft, bioresorbable coolers for reversible conduction block of peripheral nerves; in: Science (veröffentlicht 30.06.2022), Science
- Northwestern University: Dissolving implantable device relieves pain without drugs (veröffentlicht 30.06.2022), Northwestern University
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.