An ice pack that can be implanted in the human body

Emanuele Mortarotti in
14 February 2023

Several scientists have succeeded in creating an ice pack that can be implanted in the body, tiny yet powerful. The road to implantation in the body of human beings is still long, but the results that have been achieved are astonishing. Let's find out more with the support of an article published on

Ice Pack Impiantabile

Today on the Dispotech blog, we will tell you about a very interesting study: several researchers were able to create an implantable ice pack  in the body, tiny yet powerful. The road to implantation in the body of human beings is still long, but the results that have been achieved are astonishing. The implantable ice pack dissolves with the passage of time; it is able to soothe pain precisely targeting individual nerves and eliminating the need to take drugs.

Let’s find out more with the support of a news article read on


In the event of sudden pains, sprains, strains and other minor accidents, the imperative is always the same: “ice it”. As we have often reported in our blog, the advice is correct - ice is indeed a method that has always been used. However, its effectiveness is often compromised by the inaccuracy and size of the ice pack (too large or not large enough for the hurting area).

Several researchers at Northwestern University, a prestigious university in the United States, have created an implantable ice pack, basically a miniaturized ice pack to be applied to a single nerve. Its action would prevent drugs and/or opioids that are known to relieve pain from being taken.
The revolutionary medical device, so far implanted in rats in the laboratory, has given positive results. The researchers hope to be able to work quickly and improve the research rapidly.

The idea of an implantable cooling device in a body is not new. There had been experiments before, but they resulted in devices that were too large and bulky and which risked damaging internal tissues. Once implanted, they could only be removed surgically.

The implantable ice pack conceived by Northwestern University and Dr John Rogers’ team is one of a kind because it is composed of  nervelike material. It is soft and stretchy and called poly (short for polyoctanediol citrate) but, more importantly, it is able to dissolve on its own after a few weeks.

The implantable device employs microfluidics(the science of manipulating fluids through tiny tubes) together with an electronic interface that controls the cooling temperature,  and the nerve activity of the person wearing the implant. The implantable ice pack cools due to the action of perfluoropentane (a substance already in use in the medical field and absolutely safe) and dry nitrogen. The combined action of these two elements cools the device and allows pain to be relieved: several laboratory experiments on rats have demonstrated analgesic efficacy on sciatic nerves. Some of the small rodents were suffering from nerve injury and, after undergoing ice pack implantation, they regained sensitivity in their legs.


The study conducted on rats will naturally have to be extended and improved in order to test the developments. Despite its success, the researchers are focusing on the potential effects of a similar device implanted in a human body. Neuroscientist Theanne Griffith at the University of California asks the right question, or rather: what do the rats feel after the device is implanted, true pain relief or only numbness?
Of course, it is impossible to know, but researchers will have to work as hard as possible to try to understand. The response to this crucial question will influence use of the device on human beings. The point is that pain in human beings is very complex: it regards the nerves, of course, but also the individual’s emotivity.


For the future, the heads of the study hope that their implantable ice pack can be used to relieve pain in patients undergoing more or less complex surgery. Clearly, the possibility that too low a temperature might damage the nerves needs to be investigated; for the time being, Dr MacEwan, a member of the research team, said that nothing like this has emerged from the tests, but it is certainly a possibility to be explored.
Dr Basbaum at the University of California has declared that the study has a long way to go: the technology is still in a fledgling state and certainly will not replace morphine.


What do you think about this innovation? Do you think that in the future it will be possible to treat yourself with the benefits of cold with implantable ice packs? We are curious to hear your opinion: tell us about it,contact Dispotech.