Background Collagen is the principal connective tissue in all advanced organisms. Unsurprisingly processed collagen sheeting and tubes sourced from meat packing industry were found to be excellent surrogates for collagen found in human tissue,1 and the same with appropriate thickness chamois leather for skin.
This raised the possibility that collagen could be utilised in other forms in high fidelity simulation models, and this was explored.
Methodology Collagen 5% gel solution in acid pH 2(waste from sausage skin manufacture kindly supplied by Devro,Moodiesburn) was warmed and subjected to processes copied from ADAMgel preparation (mono ethylene/propylene glycol preservation ± psyllium addition), sausage casing manufacture (alkalinisation and collagen fibre precipitation) and nanotechnology (collagen scaffolding assembly through gluteraldehyde crosslinking), singly and in various combination. The resulting products were evaluated for properties and possible utility.
Results All products started out soft and liquid when still warm and when gradually cured with cooling and drying, becoming stronger and firmer until a steady state endpoint was reached.These findings is tabulated below.
Conclusions The molten nature of low concentration collagen mixes means it can used to form complex shaped structures by painting and dippng in addition to being cast and pressed. These would have similar response to high energy surgical instrumentation (diathermy and harmonic scalpel) to that of human tissue. It is unclear whether the synergy between the glycols and collagen is due to polymerization or sequestration within the protein matrix. Although current orthodoxy holds that protein based gels weaken polysaccharide based ones, our findings suggest that if prepared correctly it could actually reinforce it. The tendency for these gels gels to foam can be a problem for models using ultrasound, but can be avoided with careful preparation. Collagen based materials might have potential for employment in high fidelity surgical simulation models.
J Willers, T Miles, G Colucci, Bl Kanri, L Bisht, N Jarrett. Developing a small bowel phantom for surgical simulation. BMJ STEL 2015;1(Suppl 2):A38.
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