Health Team

Medical device allows for less-invasive surgeries

Posted November 17, 2010

— Local doctors set out to invent a better way to perform abdominal surgeries through a small, single incision.

The concept itself isn’t new, but interventional cardiologist and retired Duke University professor Dr. Richard Stack says that, with the SPIDER Surgical System, operations can be easier for both patients and doctors.

“We hope that this is a way to make the often very difficult decision that people go through to have major surgery, make it much easier for them to tolerate this procedure,” said Stack, who developed the device with other local doctors.

SPIDER is less invasive than traditional laparoscopic surgery, which requires several small incisions. With SPIDER, surgeons make a dime-sized incision in the naval, thereby avoiding scarring.

Doctors then insert the SPIDER device and perform the surgery. The system opens like an umbrella and is easier to manipulate, because the tool bends and has a 360-degree range of motion.

The expansion technology, developed by Morrisville-based Transenterix, enables surgeons to operate at angles similar to those achieved in traditional laparoscopic surgery.

‘SPIDER’ allows for less-invasive surgeries ‘SPIDER’ allows for less-invasive surgeries

The tool also features the ability to feed a fiber-optic camera system through the device, eliminating the need for an additional incision while it provides an exact camera placement during surgery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the system a year ago, and since it was released in March, it's been sold and used around the world for use in surgeries to successfully treat colon cancer, repair hernias, remove kidneys and gall bladders and gastric procedures.

Last month, regulators in the European Union approved the device for sale there.

Todd M. Pope, Transenterix’s president and CEO, said the company hopes the SPIDER can be used in the future for gastroesophageal reflux disease surgery and, perhaps, some spinal surgeries and urological procedures.

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