Researchers hope to reduce the health care costs of surgical site infections with an innovative device.

Surgical site infections (SSIs) are wound infections that occur after operations as the result of bacteria entering the incision site. There are several different forms of SSIs, including those that affect the outer layers of the skin and others that impact internal organs.

SSIs infect up to 300,000 people per year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This places a large financial burden on the health care system, as illustrated by a 2014 report in the journal Patient Safety in Surgery, which found that one SSI infection can cost over $20,000 to treat.

However, a recently unveiled device promises new hope in combating these harmful SSIs.

A New Layer of Protection

As General Surgery News reported, a team of doctors and researchers has created a device that can greatly lower a patient’s risk of SSI. The team represents several organizations, including Baylor Scott & White Health in Texas and the California-based research firm Prescient Surgical.

Together, the group created CleanCision, which is a combination of two existing medical products intended to prevent wound infections. The two protective rings surrounded by a retractable plastic sleeve work in tandem to deliver antibiotics and promote wound healing, hopefully lowering a patient’s risk of SSI. A surgical team from Prescient ran a series of feasibility studies on the device. In most cases, they were able to reduce the number of bacteria within a wound site by almost 100-fold.

Speaking with GSN, Jonathan Coe, the president of Prescient, explained that the CleanCision was one of 10 different approaches the researchers had tried out. It ended up not only working the best, but didn’t involve any major adjustments to existing surgical procedures. In experimental cases, the CleanCision device hung right on the patient’s IV bag, working effectively without getting in the way.

Also speaking with GSN, lead researcher Dr. Harry Papaconstantinou explained that the device has the potential for huge changes in how surgical patients are treated post-op.

“Surgeons typically use something to protect the wound during a case, and this device provides a much cleaner, data-driven option,” he said. “In my opinion, the device has great potential to reduce SSIs, which in turn could reduce length of stay, readmissions, and costs.”

The research team will continue development of the device with two different clinical trials: one run by Prescient that will take place in several medical centers and another headed up by Papaconstantinou that features 21 patients. Early results are promising, and the CleanCision could greatly reduce SSIs in the years to come.

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