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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 07:02 GMT 08:02 UK
Gel 'heals wounds without scars'
operating theatre
The gel can be sprayed on during surgery
A new spray has been developed to heal wounds made inside the body during surgery without scarring.

The spray gel forms a bright blue "sticking plaster" and stops tissues sticking together to form painful scars.

One of the advantages of the new dressing is that it can be used during keyhole surgery, which is now commonly preferred to open surgery techniques.

The company which has developed the gel, Confluent Surgical in Massachusetts, says that 60 patients have so far been treated with it.

The gel is made up of two liquids which, when sprayed together, solidify to form a bright blue material which breaks down gradually over about a week.

In open surgery, biodegradable dressing sheets can be applied to internal wounds, but there has been little available to help wound healing in keyhole surgery patients.

It would be very beneficial if the same technology could be applied to internal wounds

Vanessa Jones, Wound Healing Research Unit

The pain and discomfort of internal adhesions due to surgical scarring can often require a further operation.

The spray, made from polyethylene glycol, is now undergoing clinical trials in Germany and France as well as the US.

Head of Confluent Surgical, Amarpreet Sawhney told New Scientist that the gel may also have the potential to halt tumour growth by cutting off its blood supply.

"We're talking about mechanical anti-angiogenesis. We can shut off every street or alley supplying the tumour," he said.

External wounds

Vanessa Jones, senior lecturer at the Wound Healing Research Unit at the University of Wales College of Medicine, said the gel seemed to be using technology which is currently applied to external wounds.

"These products have been used extremely successfully to cover external wounds to ensure moist wound healing and avoid allergic reaction," she said.

"It would be very beneficial if the same technology could be applied to internal wounds."

There are benefits to laparoscopic surgery in terms of reduced time and trauma, but there have been difficulties in managing the wounds, she added.

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