Science Update - Blood and Healing

08 July 2007

Interview with 

Chelsea Wald and Bob Hirshon


Bob Hirshon:  This week for The Naked Scientists we're featuring two ways to help the healing process. I'm going to talk about how suction helps. But first, Chelsea's going to tell us about a technology that could best be described as a blood-based bandage.

Chelsea Wald:  When you get a cut, blood molecules called platelets create clots and release healing chemicals.  To help patients with healing disorders recover from surgery, doctors can actually concentrate a patient's platelets into a gel and apply it to the wounds.  Recently, reconstructive surgeon David Hom, then at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, decided to test the gel on surgical wounds he made in eight normal volunteers, to see if it would help healthy people, too.

David Hom (formerly University of Minnesota School of Medicine, now University of Cincinnati College of Medicine):  Whenever we had a greater than sixfold increase of platelet concentration, we saw that they closed approximately ten percent quicker.

Blood cellsChelsea -   That may not sound like much, but Hom notes that for patients recovering from major surgery, it could shave two or three days and thousands of dollars off a hospital stay.

Bob -   Thanks, Chelsea. A vacuum cleaner-like device may make children's hospital stays easier.  This according to pediatric surgeon Oluyinka Olutoye of the Baylor College of Medicine.  He and his colleagues studied children recovering from messy injuries and sores, or complicated surgeries.  They found that applying constant suction to a wound through a specialized, airtight dressing not only promoted healing, but also reduced the need for painful and scary-looking bandage changes.

Oluyinka Olutoye (Baylor College of Medicine):  So many times, the dressing changes are actually very difficult situations for those children, that they need to be medicated at times to keep them calm and reduce the pain.

Bob -   The suction technique is already used in adults, but this study suggests that it's safe and effective for children and even newborns.

Chelsea -   Thanks, Bob. Next time, we'll be back with what we hope are some less bloody stories from our side of the pond. Until then, I'm Chelsea Wald...

Bob -   ...and I'm Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, The Science Society. Back to you, Naked Scientists...


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