The current opioid abuse epidemic has created strong interest in pain management solutions that do not require drugs. The fact remains that some situations still may be best addressed using medications.
Researchers at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) research institute and university have developed a new painkiller implant technology to answer a common post-surgical challenge following certain procedures. Surgeons reasonably expect that patients will experience intense pain for a fixed duration after some procedures, such as fitting a patient with an orthotic prosthetic following amputation. In such cases, they inject pain medication during surgery and follow up with morphine via a catheter inserted near the spine.
The EPFL solution uses a biodegradable magnesium electronic circuit implant with multiple small reservoirs to hold a local anesthetic. The researchers explained the implant’s construction and operation in a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials.
The researchers fabricated the medication-filled reservoirs using micro-resonators that respond to different frequencies. When the patient needs additional medication, an external wireless device transmits an electromagnetic field at specific frequencies to release the pain medication from individual reservoirs. Because the magnesium implant degrades over time, there is no need for additional surgery to remove the device.
The EPFL team continues to work integrating micro-resonators into the implant structure and testing the selective release technology in different applications.