Suture colors help you identify if you have an infection

Everyday theres a new invention and some of these inventions come from people in high school! Daisa Taylor used beet juice to detect infections in suture colors! Learn more about how that works! #STEMvee

Transcript: Have you ever had surgery and noticed that the place where they cut open seems to be infected? When a surgical site becomes infected, it can lead to more problems and a longer stay in the hospital, and increased costs. In rare cases, the infection can lead to death. These surgical site infections are often treated with antibiotics, and in severe cases, additional surgery to remove the infection is needed. But what if we could stop the infection before it got too severe? Is there a way we can identify an infection early on? One high school student, Daisa Taylor, had these questions and created a science project to answer these questions. They developed sutures, or a row of stitches, that change colors! When an infection happens, the tissue pH around the infection will change. In healthy skin, the pH is typically around 5, but when an infection begins, the skin becomes more basic and jumps to a pH of 9. Dasia knew that beet juice is a natural pH indicator and realized that beet juice can be an early detector of infection. So, Dasia invented beet juice-dyed sutures that will go from bright red to dark purple when the skin is infected. However, the idea of detecting an infection quickly is not a new idea. Doctors have been testing out different ways to detect infection early on using technology that sends information to smartphones and computers. These ‘smart’ sutures are expensive and may not benefit areas where internet access and smartphones are limited. Meanwhile, beet juice sutures are cheap and present an attractive alternative, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that 11% of surgical infections occur in these countries compared to 2-4% in the U.S. Keep in mind, beet juice sutures can only detect surface-level infections and need more testing. A high school student’s science project has garnered worldwide attention and shone a light on our need for affordable and accessible approaches to detecting infections.



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