Posted by Neelam Goswami on March 02, 2011

According to its developers, the gel could potentially lead to a reduction in the number of post-operative complications which frequently occur following endoscopic sinus surgery.

Gel developed to counter post-operative complications
Developed by the University of Otago in partnership with the University of Adelaide and a New Zealand-based company Robinson Squidgel, the gel has undergone successful sheep and human trials over the past four years.

The medical gel is derived from a polymer named chitosan extracted from crab-shell and squid, and patent of the same has been bought by leading US-based medical technology company Medtronic.

There are a lot of complications that take place after sinus surgery and the researchers say the new gel could potentially reduce these post-operative complications.

How the gel developed?
The development of the chitosan gel started five years ago after ENT surgeon Simon Robinson of Robinson Squidgel Ltd. challenged his father Brian Robinson, a professor Otago's Chemistry Department, to come up with a compound to heal wounds post surgeries.

According to a University of Otago statement, in the past four years, there have been successful trials of the gel, in which it demonstrated an ability to control the bleeding and facilitate wound healing following the surgery.

Over 525,000 functional endoscopic sinus surgery procedures are performed in the United States every year, and the most frequent complications resulting from the procedure are bleeding and adhesions, which are scars that can form at the surgical site as sinus tissues heal after surgery.

How chitosan gel works?
Simon Robinson, who headed the research project, said the "adhesions" can block sinus passages and can lead to the recurrence of the disease requiring further surgery.

According to him, the new chitosan gel is inserted into the nasal passage and forms a coating over the wound so that adhesions or scarrings cannot form, and it also helps to stop bleeding with its superior blood clotting properties.

"We believe this will be hugely beneficial to patients and we plan to use this for appropriate sinus cases once it is commercially available,” Simon says.

"From a physician's point of view, the big thing is that it reduces the amount of bleeding the patient will experience without negative side effects -- it ticks all the boxes," he added.

The developers believe that further research the so-called chitosan-dextran gel technology could probably be used for other surgical procedures like brain and abdominal surgery.

“The chitosan-dextran gel technology would enhance Medtronic’s ability to offer innovative, therapeutic products for sinus surgeons to use in postoperative patient care,” said Mark Fletcher, president of the ENT division of the Surgical Technologies business of Medtronic, in a statement.

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