By Renee Diiulio, May 03, 2012 in

Olympus America Inc introduces a platform that integrates all common forms of advanced energies used today

The market for advanced energy-based medical devices, representing more than a billion dollars, has been split, according to David S. Colvin, director of marketing, surgical energy for Olympus America Inc, Southborough, Mass. “Many of the devices are bipolar; some are ultrasonic,” Colvin says.

Both types of instruments are used in a variety of procedures that can include surgical protocols, such as tissue dissection and vessel cutting and sealing. When performing these techniques, physicians have typically had to choose between technologies, sometimes switching instruments mid-surgery. Now, however, they no longer have to choose.

Olympus has introduced Thunderbeat, a surgical platform that delivers every common form of energy used in surgery today: monopolar, bipolar, ultrasonic, advanced bipolar, plus a new option of combined advanced bipolar and ultrasonic energies.

Cleared by the FDA earlier this year, the new instrument incorporates a patented jaw design that permits precise grasping, controlled dissection, and bipolar coagulation. Using the advanced bipolar and ultrasonic energies in combination, the device can simultaneously seal and cut vessels up to and including 7 mm in size with the thermal spread minimized and speed maximized.

Thunderbeat instruments can be used in a variety of protocols that include open, laparoscopic (including single-site surgery) general surgery; urologic surgery; gynecologic surgery; thoracic surgery; plastic and reconstructive surgery; bowel resection; cholecystectomy; nissen fundoplication; adhesiolysis; oophorectomy; hysterectomy (both vaginally assisted and abdominal); endoscopic surgery; and any procedure in which cutting, vessel ligation (sealing and cutting), coagulation, grasping, and dissection is performed.

One Instrument, Many Benefits
The versatility is likely to appeal to hospital administrators who will appreciate the potential cost savings. Capital investment may be reduced if fewer instruments can be purchased to support health care protocols; standardization to a single system can result in savings through improved performance, quality, and service requirements; and potentially faster procedure times could result in bigger volumes and better outcomes.

Noting that every procedure is different, Colvin suggests it is possible that use of the Thunderbeat system could cut turnaround times. Internal data collected by Olympus has indicated that surgeons have the potential to save 20 to 40 minutes during a complex procedure when compared to competitive products. If achieved, the patient benefits from less time under anesthesia while the organization could see a scheduling advantage—it may eventually be possible to fit in an additional procedure daily, suggests Colvin.

At the very least, organizations should enjoy a less cluttered OR. “It’s not uncommon for there to be three different energy carts and systems in an OR, so this universal platform has the potential to reduce the number of systems and the footprint that energy has in the OR,” Colvin says.

Small Device, Big Innovations
Olympus achieved this advance by tacking the challenges presented by the device’s small size. “The challenge with any laparoscopic instrument is that it has a 5 mm diameter, so any mechanical linkages and electrical connections have to be incorporated into that real estate,” Colvin say.

The new, patented jaw technology was a big step in overcoming the miniaturization obstacle; Olympus has uploaded videos to its Web site to illustrate how the system works. Colvin likens its design to that of a windshield wiper with a pivot mechanism that allows the blade to accommodate different tissue thicknesses and distribute clamping pressures, an innovation that facilitates a more accurate grasping technique and precise manipulation.

Additionally, proprietary materials also improve performance. Olympus applies two coatings to different areas of the jaw mechanism. Both have anti-stick properties that prevent tissue from sticking and wounds reopening, but one is electrically conductive and the other is non-conductive.

None of this, however, impacts service and maintenance. The jaw device is a single-use instrument and is disposed of after use. The transducer, which is reusable, is guaranteed for 100 surgical procedures and is easily sterilized via steam. The generators have a 5-year warranty, which Colvin notes is unique in the market.

The generator portion of the system is comprised of the ESG-400 electrosurgical generator and the USG-400 ultrasonic generator, which are connected by one 8-inch electrical cable that mates the two elements physically and minimizes wear and tear. An annual safety check is required, but is similar to all electrical checks and presents no unusual steps for biomeds.

Again, reduction of instruments and standardization of equipment has benefits for biomeds, who have long touted these principles when they make clinical sense. So the all-in-one Thunderbeat has benefits for all.

Photo: Cleared by the FDA earlier this year, Thunderbeat by Olympus America Inc, Southborough, Mass, integrates ultrasonic and advanced bipolar energies into one multi-functional hand instrument.

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