However, at the device level, surgical endoscopic probes are required. We present a miniaturized light probe where a photoactive material can be 1) mixed, pressurized and injected 2) photopolymerized or photoactivated and 3) monitored during the chemical reaction. The device enables surgeries to be conducted through a hole smaller than 1 mm in diameter.
Beside basic injection mechanics, the tool consists of an optical fiber guiding the light required for photopolymerization and for chemical analysis. Combining photorheology and fluorescence spectroscopy, the current state of the photopolymerization is inferred and monitored in real time. Biocompatible and highly tuneable Poly-Ethylene-Glycol (PEG) hydrogels were used as the injection material.
The device was tested on a model for intervertebral disc replacement. Gels were successfully implanted into a bovine caudal model and mechanically tested in-vitro during two weeks. The photopolymerized gel was evaluated at the tissue level (adherence and mechanical properties of the implant), at the cellular level (biocompatibility and cytotoxicity) and ergonomic level (sterilization procedure and feasibility study).
This paper covers the monitoring aspect of the device.