10:36pm Sunday 31 May 2020

Surgeons announce new advance for sinus sufferers

The wound dressing, which improves healing, controls bleeding and prevents adhesions (scars that can form at the surgical site) following sinus surgery, is the brainchild of medical researchers from the University of Adelaide, University of Otago and Wellington-based Robinson Squidgel.

The world’s largest medical technology company, Medtronic, purchased the patent for the nasal dressing in a deal with the three entities.

World-renowned ENT surgeon Professor PJ Wormald from the University of Adelaide has led the development of the product alongside his New Zealand colleagues Emeritus Professor Brian Robinson from the University of Otago and his son, ENT surgeon Mr Simon Robinson.

The gel, derived from a polymer named chitosan and extracted from crab shell and squid, has been successfully trialled in sheep and humans over the past four years.

Professor Wormald says the medical gel, which has important blood clotting abilities, forms a coating over the wound to prevent scarring.

“Currently, up to one third of all people who undergo sinus surgery experience blocked nasal passages afterwards due to scarring and this requires further surgery to correct,” Professor Wormald says.

The new gel is expected to benefit millions of people around the world who undergo endoscopic surgery for blocked sinuses.

Professor Wormald says 18% of the general population suffers from chronic sinusitis, many of whom undergo surgery to correct the problem.

“In the past, surgeons would pack the nose with ribbon gauze to stop the bleeding and prevent adhesions. Unfortunately, this was very uncomfortable and painful for patients. This new gel is placed into the sinuses after surgery and is very effective in controlling bleeding. The gel slowly dissolves over two weeks, allowing the sinuses to heal properly, preventing scar tissue from forming in the nose.”

Professor Wormald says the new product marks a significant advance for ENT surgeons and their patients. “It ticks all the boxes and will improve a huge number of surgical outcomes in the years ahead,” he says.

The Director of Adelaide Research & Innovation, Mr Robert Chalmers, says the extensive clinical trials were funded by ARI’s Commercial Accelerator Scheme.

“This is an outstanding result for the University of Adelaide and its New Zealand colleagues and demonstrates the power of collaborative expertise,” he says.

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