By: 24 March 2017
Effects of laser tissue welding for spina bifida repair

Researchers in Texas have studied the effects of laser tissue welding on the spinal cord and skin in the hope that it may help with the development of new surgical techniques for spina bifida repair.

In a preliminary study, entitled ‘Evaluation of the effects of laser tissue welding on the spinal cord and skin in a 30-day study of simulated spina bifida repair in rabbits’, the team from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston attempted to determine the effects of laser tissue welding on underlying skin and spinal cord tissue.

The researchers were interested to see if applying laser energy to coagulate an albumin compound would damage the underlying skin and/or spinal cord tissue. They plan to use the substance for sealing incision lines in fetal surgical spina bifida repair procedures.

A crucial aspects of a fetal repair is a watertight seal once the repair is complete. “Laser tissue welding is a promising technology that may allow a temporary seal over healing wounds that allows enough time for the regeneration of the skin underneath the albumin layer,” explained Michael Belfort, chairman and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Baylor. “By sealing off the incision line with a natural substance that disintegrates over time, we feel that the suture line may heal without developing any leaks which would compromise the repair.”

The first step in the experimental process examined whether the heat from the laser (required to activate the liquid albumin and turn it into a solid) would damage the skin or spinal tissue under the skin.

“This is just the first step,” added Belfort. “Now that we know that the laser energy is unlikely to damage spinal cord tissue we have planned a fetal sheep experiment.”

Source: Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine