A new 3D-printed suturing device could save the NHS up to £10.7 million a year, the team behind the invention have said, backed by figures from on an assessment of NHS devices carried out by York Health Economics Consortium.

The company, Sutrue, have created two new devices that offer medics an alternative to hand. The devices are a handheld suturing device and an endoscopic/robotic suturing device. 

The technique for producing medical stitches has changed little since ancient Egypt. It can also be problematic, as it relies on the ability, dexterity, training and alertness of the practitioner. Sutrue hopes to have solved this problem has solved with the creation of the two 3D-printed devices. They transform the manual process of stitching into a far simpler, quicker and more accurate automated process, thus reducing the margin for human error. There have been over 10,000 patent attempts to produce a device that sutures wounds, and Sutrue is the first to successfully achieve the creation and patenting of a suturing mechanism that works with any standard 5/8ths medical needle.

Other benefits of the two new handheld suturing device include:

  • Increased needle force and the option to reduce needle size to subsequently reduce tissue trauma/scarring
  • Ability to use standard suturing needles from different suppliers
  • Reduction of needle stick injuries among healthcare practitioners, and therefore fewer cases of high risk infection such as HIV and Hepatitis B
  • Procedures can be performed in the field by less skilled users resulting in injuries being treated more quickly.

To create their unique suturing mechanism, Sutrue produced 38 different prototypes and designed and tested over 1,500 parts, which involved 15,000 hours of design work. This resulted in the creation of a patented automated suturing mechanism that now consistently works across both types of devices – the handheld and the endoscopic/robotic.

Both types of devices can produce a row of sutures, tie a knot and sew around a corner. Their ability to do this means that they have numerous significant benefits within medicine, in addition to the handheld device having a wide range of industrial applications. The creation of these devices has been a feat of engineering that has used modern 3D printing capabilities to impact the future of medical research and development.