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Thompson center innovating to improve bariatric surgery

by UCRI | Aug 21, 2015

One of the latest examples of UCRI’s dedication to innovation comes from the Thompson Center – a hub for the creation of need-driven medical device technology.

With one-third of our country’s population considered obese, it’s not surprising that the annual cost for healthcare continues to skyrocket. In fact, a recent study by the CDC estimates that the medical expense of obesity is nearing $150 billion per year and rising. Yet less than 1% of eligible patients undergo the life-saving surgeries thy need.

In the complex field of bariatric surgery – or in layman’s terms, weight loss surgery – patients and surgeons alike are looking to increase their success rates and decrease complications. Take a gastrectomy, for example: under the current approach, surgeons use a clamp of sorts to hold the stomach in place while they remove up to 80 percent of the stomach. But current devices don’t keep the stretchy, “floppy” stomach tissue in place, because they affix to the side of the stomach that is being removed… which means surgeons don’t have a straight line to cut against, creating a zig-zag pattern of incisions and stitches. As a result, each surgery has a level of variability – increasing the risk of complications such as leaking or reflux. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 31 percent of bariatric surgeries fail due to variable results and surgical inefficiencies.

It is this variability that innovators at the Thompson Center are hoping to eliminate.

Dr. Jon Thompson, MD, the center’s Chief Medical Officer, and his team of industry veterans have established Standard Bariatrics – a new benchmark for how these types of procedures are accomplished.

As the name would suggest, the team’s goal is to standardize bariatric surgery so that it can be easily replicated and the outcomes can be more predicable. The Standard Bariatric sleeve uses gentle pressure to keep the stomach in place and provides a fixed line against which surgeons can operate. Dr. Thompson describes it as, “like clamping a ruler on the half of a piece of paper that you want to keep, then using an X-acto knife to cut away the portion of the paper you don’t want to keep.”

It’s a startlingly simple way of approaching bariatric surgery, but it took stepping out of the box – and partnering with the brilliant minds at the University of Cincinnati – to bring new thinking to a life-saving surgery.  

This innovative breakthrough has tremendous potential for the healthcare community across the board. With the Standard Bariatrics sleeve, physicians operate on more predictable anatomy, which limits complications. In turn, it reduces the cost of healthcare. And most importantly, it offers the patient the greatest benefit for the least amount risk.

Not surprisingly, The Thompson Center and Standard Bariatrics both continue to garner attention. The Cincinnati Business Courier published a piece in mid-August - touting the incredible potential this innovation has moving forward.

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