Microengineered biosynthesized cellulose as anti-fibrotic in vivo protection for cardiac implantable electronic devices

Francesco Robotti, Ita Sterner, Simone Bottan, Josep M. Monné Rodríguez, Giovanni Pellegrini, Tanja Schmidt, Volkmar Falk, Dimos Poulikakos, Aldo Ferrari, Christoph Starck
Upon cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) exchange, upgrade, or revision surgery patients are exposed to a considerable risk of adverse events. The presence of firm fibrotic tissue endangers these procedures. Leads can be damaged in the attempt of freeing them from fibrotic tissue. Hematoma can form as result of capsulectomy, pocket debridement and leads dissection. Due to the increasing number of CIED exchange, upgrade and revision surgeries, the incidence of related complications is expected to rise in the near future.The aim of the study was to evaluate the feasibility, safety, and performance of a rationally micro-engineered non-resorbable biosynthesized cellulose (BC) membrane as conformal wrapping protection around CIED implants. Protective membranes were generated by means of a recently established method to transfer on-demand microscale geometries onto the surface of BC. A chronic minipig animal model was selected to investigate the performance of the BC anti-fibrotic protection, directly measured as reduction of fibrotic tissue formation. Sixteen (n = 16) animals received each one BC coated pacemaker (PMC) and one native pacemaker (BI) at equivalent anatomical sites. BC protective layers were juxtaposed around pacemakers through a fast and well-repeatable procedure. Explants were performed at 3 and 12 months after implantation. Endpoint analysis showed that the BC protective layers were 100% integer, with no sign of chemical or mechanical degradation and appeared as a thin layer of white-tan material, adherent to the surrounding thin fibrous capsule, from which it could be peeled off by gently pulling with forceps. The protective effect of micro-engineered BC yielded an average thickness reduction of 66% of the fibrotic tissue thickness generated around PMC, as compared to that measured around the naked counterpart (i.e. the BI). When protected by in BC, both the generator and the proximal parts of the leads were completely free from fibrotic tissue. The insertion of an anti-adhesive, non-resorbable and well-tolerated BC interface between the implant and the surrounding tissue in the surgical pocket significantly reduced the formation of fibrotic tissue, ensuring an easy access to the device pocket, and thus creating the conditions for simplified CIED revision surgeries.

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