Air shield protects surgical cut from bacterial infections

The FDA has approved a unique medical device meant for reducing surgical-incision site contamination by infection-causing microorganisms.

The Air Barrier System, or ABS, developed by Nimbic Systems, based near Houston, Texas, creates a “cocoon” of highly pure air that surrounds a surgical incision site, Live Science reported.

The cocoon isolates the incision from ambient air to prevent the bacteria present in the operating room from harming the patient.

The portable ABS device prevents contamination without disrupting the surgical procedure or impeding access to the incision area, making it relatively easy to use.

The ABS consists of two components: A non-sterile, reusable blower unit that provides the source of HEPA filtered air; and a sterile, disposable nozzle that is affixed onto the surgical drape adjacent to the incision.

In 2009, Nimbic Systems received funding from the National Science Foundation to conduct ABS pilot trials, with the goal of determining the degree to which localized, directed HEPA air flow generated by the ABS reduced the amount of airborne particulates and colony-forming bacteria in the surgical field and wound during total hip arthroplasty.

The ABS system can reduce the number and size of bacterial colonies that grow on a nutrient rich broth in the lab.

The results of the preliminary hip arthroplasty trial revealed that the ABS reduces the presence of microorganisms at the incision site by greater than 84 percent.

Based on the data obtained in the pilot trials, the FDA approved the ABS for use in hip arthroplasty procedures, while future trials planned for later this year will investigate spine and femoral popliteal procedures.

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