Pneumo Sleeve to facilitate Hand Assisted Laparoscopic Surgery as applied in kidney transplantation

San Antonio 15 March 2000Dexterity Surgical's ground-breaking Pneumo Sleeve is being used in Hand Assisted Laparoscopic Surgery (HALS). Dr. J. Stuart Wolf and the University of Michigan transplant team apply the innovative HALS technique in delicate kidney transplant operations. Dr. Wolf has been the first surgeon to use the Pneumo Sleeve for this procedure, in which a kidney is harvested from a living donor and utilised for transplantation. To retrieve the healthy kidney, the surgeon uses his hand to lift out the organ through an incision just below the navel. Since the abdominal cavity of the patient is filled with carbon dioxide gas to facilitate the movement of the surgical tools, a special device, called a hand-assistance sleeve, must be inserted into the incision to maintain the inflation of the abdominal cavity.

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Surgeon Stuart Wolf, MD, plans to apply the innovative medical procedure to extract a healthy kidney from a donor, in order to transplant it into her patient sister, who suffers from end-stage renal failure. Guided by what he sees on a video monitor, Dr. Wolf will use laparoscopic instruments to retrieve the healthy kidney from the donor's abdomen. Surgeon Darrell Campbell, MD, will then transplant the kidney into the patient. Known as laparoscopic nephrectomy, the procedure is a breakthrough in the world of transplantation because it is far less traumatic to the living donor than the conventional open procedure. Drs. Wolf and Campbell are leaders in this new type of surgery.

Dexterity Surgical CEO, Richard Woodfield, states that in recent years, the growth of many novel surgical procedures had to be attributed to patient demand. "We are delighted that the public is being educated about new surgical alternatives such as HALS. This is especially important for kidney donors, who have had to suffer long, painful recoveries. It is our hope that the benefits of HALS, which include decreased pain and scarring, shorter operating times, reduced hospital stay and quicker return to normal activity, will convince more people to become kidney donors." This type of laparoscopic donor nephrectomies are performed on healthy volunteers who are a tissue match with the recipient, who receives the donated kidney in a simultaneous surgery.

HALS with the Pneumo Sleeve is not limited to donor kidney surgery though. Rick Feiler, who is Vice President Marketing for Dexterity Surgical, states: "We are currently witnessing tremendous growth in the utilisation of HALS. It is being used not only in dozens of major transplant centres, but in hundreds of hospitals in the United States and abroad. HALS' wide range of surgical applications include minimally invasive colon surgery, surgery of the liver and spleen, complex hysterectomy, obesity surgery, and other advanced abdominal procedures."

Mr. Feiler adds that when his company launched the first Pneumo Sleeve 5 years ago, this was viewed as a niche product but now it is entirely possible that the Pneumo Sleeve will spark a whole new boom in minimally invasive surgery. In turn, Dr. J. Stuart Wolf states that the advent of hand assisted laparoscopic surgery is one of those major battles which will allow minimally invasive surgery to spread throughout the country. Dr. Wolf is performing surgery at the University of Michigan Health System, which comprises the University of Michigan (UM) Medical School and its Faculty Group Practice, three UM hospitals, 30 health centres, 120 outpatient clinics, an HMO, and the Michigan Health Corporation.

The UM Hospitals organisation forms a key component of the Health System. Since its founding in 1869 as the first university-owned hospital in the U.S., the hospital complex has provided health care, programmes of education and research, and referral support for health care providers and institutions in Michigan. As a teaching resource, the UM Hospitals is used for the training of approximately 4000 students annually in the techniques of contemporary clinical medicine. This includes 826 physicians in residency training in 66 clinical training programmes.

The Transplant Center was founded in 1963 and forms the largest transplant programme in Michigan. Doctors at the facility currently perform heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Tissue transplantation, such as skin, cornea, bone, and bone marrow, are performed by other departments within the University of Michigan Health System. The Health System consistently ranks among the best health care institutions in the nation. In 1999, it was named to the honour roll of the "best hospitals" within the U.S.


Leslie Versweyveld

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