Written by Kelly Stincer.
Weight loss surgeries are growing in popularity, with the most common type being the sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure uses staplers to remove as much as 80 percent of the stomach in order to help the patient lose weight and return to a healthy lifestyle. But currently there is no standardized technique for performing these surgeries. Doctors in different cities use a wide variety of tools and methods, and the result is a wide range of patient outcomes.
Standard Bariatrics in Cincinnati, Ohio, is creating surgical instruments that will help standardize sleeve gastrectomies and remove much of this variation.
“In this surgery, when you’re removing that much of a person’s anatomy, making sure doctors are getting the right size and shape of the stomach is vital,” said Russ Holscher, president and CEO of Standard Bariatrics. “Right now, it’s a challenge to visualize where to place one staple on the stomach, let alone a whole line of them.”
Standard Bariatrics’ first device is a clamp that surgeons place in the patient’s body to adjust the stomach before stapling. This ensures the stomach will be the proper size and shape post-surgery. Once surgery begins, the clamp also acts as a template that doctors can follow when placing the staples.
“Currently, physicians use tools called endocutters to place staples. These tools are short in length, have to be removed four to six times during surgery to reload, and require surgeons to re-evaluate the placement of staples with each reload,” said Holscher.
Holscher says that by using the clamp, surgeons can visualize the whole staple line, which helps them stay away from vital organs and tissue, lowering the risk of complications. It also allows them to reload less often, and cut costs by saving one or two staple cartridges per patient.
Dr. Jonathan Thompson founded Standard Bariatrics in 2014 while working as a bariatric surgeon at the UC Health’s West Chester Hospital. He experienced the unique challenges that came with performing a sleeve gastrectomy, and knew that with different tools he could find a better way to perform the surgery. He developed the clamp at the Thompson Center at the University of Cincinnati Research Institute and created the company as the center’s first spinoff. The clamp was submitted for FDA approval less than a year later.
Standard Bariatrics received a $100,000 Technology Validation and Start-up Fund grant from Ohio Third Frontier, which helped the company perform market research to better understand the wants and needs of bariatric surgeons. They also received a seed round of funding led by Accelerant, CincyTech and Queen City Angels, all regional partners of Ohio Third Frontier.
Holscher says his company would not be developing the technology it is today without the support of Ohio Third Frontier and its partners — and the benefits of starting a biotech business in Ohio go far beyond the capital resources.
“We draw from the state’s vibrant manufacturing and engineering industries, as well as the talented marketing professionals that understand the medical device industry,” said Holscher. “There is infrastructure in place here, from major corporations like Procter & Gamble to startup mentorship organizations. All of that combined makes Cincinnati a great city to do business in.”