One of the device's inventors, John Foster of the University of New South Wales in Australia, said surgical sutures date back some 4,000 years, so a new approach has been long overdue.
Foster, of the Bio/polymer Research Group, said the bio-film -- measuring 50 microns thick -- is placed on a surgical wound and exposed to an infrared laser, which heats the film just enough to meld it to the tissue, sealing the wound.
The bio-film, known as Surgilux, is extracted from crab shells and has U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, Foster said.
Early test results indicate Surgilux's strongest potential is for brain and nerve surgery because it the invasive sutures can fail to seal and can act as a source of infection -- up to 11 percent of brain surgery patients have to return for repeat surgery due to leakage and other complications arising from sutures, Foster said.
"The beauty of this is that infra-red laser doesn't cause any tissue damage," Fosters said in a statement. "Better still, Surgilux has anti-microbial properties, which deters post-operative infections."