Having successfully created two new automated suturing devices which are set to transform the suturing process and potentially save the NHS £10.7 million each year, we are keen to spread the word about our devices and are planning to host an exciting Press Announcement at the Design Museum, London, where our handheld device is currently exhibited.
The press announcement is taking place on 30th May 2018 and the press that attend will be amongst the first people in the world to create automated robotic stitches using a Zeus medical robot and the Sutrue robotic suturing device. The event will also include an inspirational Q&A with a panel of thought leaders involved in the design, engineering, testing and patenting of the device. Attendees will witness the handheld suturing device in action and have the opportunity to compare it to traditional hand stitching. They will also have the chance to view the handheld device at the museum’s ‘Designer Maker User’ exhibition.
There are still a few places left, so please contact Thea@sutrue.com if you would like to attend this ground-breaking event.
The Sutrue Automated Suturing Devices story
The technique for producing medical stitches hasn’t changed since the times of Ancient Egypt – until now. Medical stitching by hand can be problematic as it relies on the ability, dexterity, training and alertness of the practitioner. We have solved this historic problem through the creation of two revolutionary automated stitching devices. They transform the manual process of stitching into a far simpler, quicker and more accurate automated process, thus reducing the margin for human error. There have been over 10,000 patent attempts to produce a device that sutures wounds and we are proud to be the first to successfully achieve it.
Benefits of the Handheld Suturing Device over traditional suturing include:
– The potential to save the NHS £10.7 million a year (based on data from ‘Health Economics Assessment of an Automated Suturing Device within the NHS’ by York Health Economics Consortium)
– Safer, quicker and more accurate than suturing by hand
– Increased needle force and the option to reduce needle size to subsequently reduce tissue trauma/scarring
– Ability to use standard suturing needles from different suppliers
– Reduction of needle stick injuries among healthcare practitioners and therefore fewer cases of high risk infection such as HIV and Hepatitis B
– Procedures can be performed in the field by less skilled users resulting in injuries being treated more quickly
Benefits of using the Sutrue Robotic / Endoscopic Suturing device instead of using forceps include:
– Reduction in number of open operations and increase in keyhole surgery
– Increased speed of suturing: while an experienced surgeon can take up to 25 seconds per stitch in endoscopic surgery, our device can produce a stitch in 1/3 of a second
– Increased access to hard-to-reach places using the articulation of the device
– Increased accuracy of suturing due to reduction of human error. This is particularly relevant in relation to cosmetic surgery and internal surgery where movement is limited
To create our unique suturing mechanism, we produced 38 different prototypes and designed and tested over 1,500 parts, which involved 15,000 hours of design work. This resulted in the creation of a patented automated suturing mechanism that now consistently works across both types of devices – the handheld and the endoscopic/robotic.
ROBOTIC / ENDOSCOPIC DEVICE
For over eight years we have worked closely with Mr Richard Trimlett (Cardio-thoracic Surgeon and Head of Mechanical Support at the Royal Brompton Hospital) on the creation of both devices. Richard sees the robotic / endoscopic device as being very influential to the future of robotic surgery. He believes that the device could help to significantly reduce the number of open operations undertaken in the future as it enables sutures to be carried out endoscopically, thus removing the need to ‘open up’ a patient. He stated:
“It’s true to say that the majority of operations we’re doing today are still open and that’s not because the patient wants them open, it’s because of the limitations of the technology and so there are many improvements to technology that we need to get to the point where we can do everything as a keyhole operation and I see this [Sutrue device] as one of them”.
The potential applications of the device include all forms of robotic surgery, but particularly the following areas:
Sutrue has worked with several influential medics during the development process of their suturing devices, including Professor John Pepper OBE, Professor in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute who believes the handheld device will benefit inexperienced medical staff when closing wounds. He stated:
“[The Sutrue handheld device] is less likely to cause tissue damage and inexperienced operators often cause tissue damage without realising it, particularly in general surgery for example, whilst doing routine parts of general surgery, like closing the wound and the layers of the wound. It’s important, yet often delegated to the most junior person and tissue damage there can lead to wound breakdown, infection, haematomas and so on.”
Potential applications include:
– Field hospitals
– Extreme environments (e.g. in space)
– Textiles industry
The engineering process involved in the creation of the Sutrue devices has been significantly faster than traditional methods due to the use of cutting edge 3D printing technology provided by GE Additive. Alex Berry, MD of Sutrue, stated:
“Rapid prototyping has significantly reduced the cost of the creation of the devices, probably by a factor of 50. It has also shaved years off the time it would have otherwise taken. We’ve taken a ‘create, print, test, tweak, reprint’ approach to solving the problem. We even coined our own term for the working process and called it ‘Multi-typing’, which is the ability to loosely design the same component in three or four different ways, have them printed within a few hours and then test and learn from each prototype. This approach has been instrumental in allowing a small start-up company likes ours to maximise our output in terms of creativity and problem solving”.
Concept Laser – now a part of GE Additive – has been working with Sutrue for almost three years with the printing of the very small and detailed parts that the automated suturing devices require.
“By using the high-resolution capabilities of our Mlab cusing R 3D printer, Sutrue has been able to successfully speed up the engineering process involved in the creation of their medical devices, through a process called rapid prototyping,” (said Stephan Zeidler, business development manager for the medical sector at Concept Laser).
“Once designed by Sutrue, the structurally superior parts were printed by our team before Sutrue assembled them into numerous medical prototypes – sometimes straight from our printer with minimal post processing. This in turn saved considerable time and cost and has resulted in the completion of a series of fully-functioning medical prototypes. Sutrue’s success in having achieved this is a fantastic example of what is possible with our DMLM machines and additive manufacturing technology. We are delighted that both devices are now mechanically sound and are ready for testing within medical industry,” (Zeidler continued).
Doctor Tom Burt (Chartered UK and European Patent Attorney, Patent Attorney Litigator at Abel & Imray) has been working with Sutrue on the legal side – patenting the mechanism. He commented on the considerable number of patent attempts that have tried and failed to produce a suturing mechanism like Sutrue’s. Doctor Burt stated:
“As part of the patenting process we arranged several searches looking for anything like the Sutrue mechanism. From this, it became clear that the mechanism solves a problem that’s been worked on for a long time – one of the searches turned up a patent application for a suturing device that was filed in 1908! The searches found various devices that tried to automate suturing, but no one else had managed to devise the key feature that makes the Sutrue device work so well. As a result, we’ve been able to obtain granted patents for the Sutrue mechanism in several jurisdictions including Europe, the USA, Russia and Australia.“