Laparoscopic surgery is a growing surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through very small incisions (0.5-1.5 cm) compared to the larger incisions needed in traditional, open surgical procedures. Patients that undergo laparoscopic surgery enjoy shorter hospital stays and reduced instances of surgery-inflicted morbidity.
This E-Team is taking laparoscopy a step further, developing a set of laparoscopic tools that enable surgery with extremely small incisions leaving no visible scars by enabling assembly of complex tools inside the patient. Existing scar-free techniques are burdened by steep learning curves and high costs, but the E-Team’s device, called ENGAGE™, requires minimal surgeon re-training and aligns with current insurance reimbursement plans.
The laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, is one of the most frequent surgeries performed in the United States, with an estimated 922,000 performed annually. Although laparoscopic removal significantly decreases surgical risk and recovery time, difficulties can arise when removing a gallstone-ridden gallbladder through a twelve-millimeter port. An important step in the surgery occurs when the physician puts the gallbladder into a laparoscopic retrieval bag (endobag); gallstones bulge at the bottom of the bag and can become wedged in the removal site.
To solve the problem, this E-Team is designing an endobag that employs cross-linked synthetic fibers nestled between pieces of polyurethane to create a structure similar to a novelty finger trap. When the surgeon pulls up, the contents inside the endobag lineate (form lines) due to the resulting radial force, preventing bulging of the gallbladder during extraction. The device integrates with the current procedure and tools; no new techniques or equipment are necessary.