Energy-Based Tissue Fusion for Sutureless Closure: Applications, Mechanisms, and Potential for Functional Recovery.
As minimally invasive surgical techniques progress, the demand for efficient, reliable methods for vascular ligation and tissue closure becomes pronounced. The surgical advantages of energy-based vessel sealing exceed those of traditional, compression-based ligatures in procedures sensitive to duration, foreign bodies, and recovery time alike. Although the use of energy-based devices to seal or transect vasculature and connective tissue bundles is widespread, the breadth of heating strategies and energy dosimetry used across devices underscores an uncertainty as to the molecular nature of the sealing mechanism and induced tissue effect. Furthermore, energy-based techniques exhibit promise for the closure and functional repair of soft and connective tissues in the nervous, enteral, and dermal tissue domains. A constitutive theory of molecular bonding forces that arise in response to supraphysiological temperatures is required in order to optimize and progress the use of energy-based tissue fusion. While rapid tissue bonding has been suggested to arise from dehydration, dipole interactions, molecular cross-links, or the coagulation of cellular proteins, long-term functional tissue repair across fusion boundaries requires that the reaction to thermal damage be tailored to catalyze the onset of biological healing and remodeling. In this review, we compile and contrast findings from published thermal fusion research in an effort to encourage a molecular approach to characterization of the prevalent and promising energy-based tissue bond.