Laparoscopic surgery, also called minimally invasive surgery, is a surgical technique in which operations in the abdomen are performed through small incisions (usually 0.5-1.5 cm), as compared to the larger incisions common in traditional surgical procedures. The key element in laparoscopic surgery is the use of a telescopic rod/lens system, usually connected to a video camera, called a laparoscope. Using carbon dioxide, the abdomen is blown up like a balloon, elevating the abdominal wall above the internal organs and giving the surgeon room to operate. This approach has a number of advantages, including reduced blood loss, which means less likelihood of needing a blood transfusion; a smaller incision, which means shorter recovery time; and less pain, which equals less pain medication needed.
The approach isn't without drawbacks, however, as one of the most frustrating and time-consuming parts of the surgery is closing the small port sites in the abdominal wall that are made when accessing the operative site. If the port sites are closed improperly, the patient is at increased risk of hernia or bowel problems, requiring further treatment. This E-Team has developed a solution to automatically, safely and reliably close the port sites. The 10mm device has two opposing wings that open when placed into a port. An indicator on the device alerts the surgeon when the wings are in their final position, and the surgeon locks the device into position by pushing a plunger that drives two flexible needles from the shaft into the wings. The surgeon then releases the wings and pulls out the device, leaving a looped suture around the port site opening.
Urinary incontinence is a common, often embarrassing condition affecting millions of Americans. The most common form of the condition is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), the involuntary leakage of urine when sneezing, coughing, or otherwise exerting yourself. While current surgical treatments are effective for most women with SUI, this E-Team believes there is a need for a reliable, minimally invasive treatment for patients with Intrinsic Sphinteric Deficiency (ISD), in which the urethra functions poorly despite normal anatomical support. Given the fact that all male cases of SUI are caused by ISD, the greatest unmet need lies in the male market.
The team has filed a provisional patent and developed an alpha prototype. With NCIIA funding the team will design and refine more prototypes, file for a full patent, and develop a business plan and marketing strategy.
It is standard practice in the US to monitor a mother and fetus during the labor and delivery process. However, the reliability and user-friendliness of current monitoring devices is questionable: the two sensors (fetal heart rate and contraction) must be strapped tightly to the woman's abdomen, require continual adjustment by nursing staff, limit mobility, and interfere with fetal monitoring during placement of an epidural.
This E-Team is developing a new approach to fetal monitoring. The team's solution consists of disposable adhesive patches placed on the mother's abdomen. The heart rate and contraction sensors are miniaturized and incorporated into the patches themselves. Once the patches are placed, they will not need adjustment by nurses, will not interfere with epidural placement, will allow the mother to move around more freely, and will provide more reliable data.
This E-Team is developing a low-cost ventilator - named Onebreath - for two distinct purposes: emergency readiness in developed countries and general use in developing countries. The state of preparedness of the US healthcare system for an influenza epidemic has been recently assessed, and it was determined that the nation's hospitals will not have enough ventilators to meet the anticipated demand (more than 740,000 would be needed; the US has 105,000). Meanwhile, in developing countries, millions die each year from lack of access to a common ventilator. To fill the need in both cases, the team is developing a low-cost ($300, where typical ventilators range from $8,000-$60,000), rechargeable, portable, disposable ventilator.
Every year, 10-20% of all pacemaker and implantable cardiac device (ICD) surgeries are replacements: the batteries fail, necessitating replacement of the entire device. This is an extra expense and surgical risk that could be avoided if the batteries lasted longer. To that end, this E-Team is developing a microgenerator consisting of a moving magnet and coil located within the tips of existing pacemakers' wire leads attached to the heart wall. The device will harvest the energy generated by the movement of the wall when the heart beats, thereby extending the life of the battery.
Enjoy these video updates from one of our Sustainable Vision teams: Stanford University's project to strengthening manufacturing capacity of Burmese metalworking firms to promote sustained development. The team believes introducing an improved manufacturing process for treadle pumps will eventually diffuse to other areas, broadly improving the local metalworking sector.
A student team from Stanford University's Design for Extreme Affordability program are heading to Myanmar this week to work on their projects with International Development Enterprises-Myanmar (IDE/M). The team's project, funded by an NCIIA Sustainable Vision grant, is to help IDE/M design and implement a new treadle pump manufacturing system, based around local conditions and needs. The team believes introducing an improved manufacturing process for treadle pumps will eventually diffuse to other areas, broadly improving the local metalworking sector.
An NCIIA-funded E-Team from Stanford University has been awarded a Coulter grant that will help move its invention - an affordable ventilator - along the product development path.
The Stanford team is developing a low-cost ventilator for two distinct purposes: emergency readiness in developed countries and general use in developing countries. To fill the need in both cases, the team is developing a low-cost ($300, where typical ventilators range from $8,000-$60,000), rechargeable, portable, disposable ventilator. Read more about the grant here.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a clinical disorder characterized by instability of the upper airway during sleep, leading to frequent episodes of breathing cessation (apnea) or decreased airflow, during which the patient has a brief arousal from sleep that allows for the resumption of breathing. These episodes can occur 400-500 times per night, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness that can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular events, stroke, car accidents, and premature death. There are numerous treatments for OSA currently on the market, but most of them have poor efficacy, poor patient compliance due to discomfort, and/or are very invasive. In response to this market need, this E-Team developed the Minimally Invasive Tongue Advancement Device (MiTAD), a tongue implant made of shape memory material that decreases the risk of obstruction during sleep by bringing the tongue upwards and forwards, increasing the cross-sectional area of the airway. The device can be implanted in an outpatient setting using a catheter-like delivery system: the implant is compressed and packed into the delivery system, then inserted by making a puncture in the lower aspect of the chin.
The E-Team believes its procedure is less invasive than current OSA treatments, provides for more accurate advancement of the tongue, allows the patient adequate tongue movement during speaking and swallowing, and comes at a low cost.
This E-Team developed a digital receipt system for retail and online stores. The system consists of a credit card-sized smart card with an embedded 1 Mb memory to store receipt data, a card reader/writer for stores, and a card reader/writer for the consumer’s personal computer that allows her to upload receipts from the card, organize them by category, and process them using spreadsheets. For an example of how the system works, take a typical return: the consumer hands the smart card to the cashier, who places it in the reader, finds the correct receipt, and matches it with the store’s receipt. With this device the team is looking to solve hassles with paper receipts, make check-out faster, save businesses money, and give the consumer an easy way to manage purchases.
The E-Team consisted of two electrical engineering undergraduate students and one biomechanical engineering undergraduate. David Kelley, founder and CEO of IDEO and currently a Stanford professor, advised the team.