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First-Of-Its-Kind Magnetic Surgical System Paves the Way for Easier Gallbladder Removal

First-Of-Its-Kind Magnetic Surgical System Paves the Way for Easier Gallbladder Removal
PHOTOGRAPH: Corfo | Photo shows the tools for “Magnetic Surgery” of Levita Magnetics, with support from Corfo.

Many decades ago, doctors were already using laparoscopic surgery, which required four or five incisions into a patient’s body. A startup company in California has now improved the procedure with the use of a magnet allowing for a single incision.

This revolutionary magnetic surgical system is targeted at gallbladder removal, one of the simplest and most common among abdominal surgeries. Around 700,000 gallbladder removals are performed each year in the United States, amounting to significant cost to health care providers.

Considerable pain has been reported by patients who have undergone numerous incisions using the traditional procedure. The bottom line is that less incisions entail a shorter and less painful post-operative recovery period for the patient.

THE CALIFORNIA START-UP’S INNOVATION

Levita Magnetics, a medical device company based in San Mateo, California, has come up with a magnetic surgical system to respond to the need to minimize incisions without affecting the surgeon’s operative field. If said incisions were lessened during a laparoscopic surgery (which require four to five incisions), there would be danger of instrumentation clashing, poor visualization, and ultimately increased risk in the surgical operation.

The California-based startup, however, has eliminated such danger with the use of a magnetic device with a detachable tip that clamps onto the gallbladder. The grasper fits into a single entry point such as the navel, and may be repositioned with a magnetic controller stationed outside the abdominal wall.

Levita’s founder and CEO Alberto Rodriguez-Navarro, a surgeon, said that the company name was culled from how the device’s detachable tip can, in a sense, levitate inside the abdominal wall with the use of a magnet. Dr. Rodriguez-Navarro stated that his company’s device was first used by Dr. Matthew Kroh, director of surgical endoscopy at the Cleveland Clinic and one of the United States’ foremost surgeons.

PARTNERSHIPS & EXPANSION

Major surgery centers at Stanford and Duke Universities have also partnered with Levita. With Food and Drug Administration approval of the surgical system obtained last year, the company will eventually expand into operations other than for gallbladders: thorax, bariatric, colorectal, urological and gynecological surgeries.

The medical device enterprise, with 14 issued or pending patents, is also looking into robotics and a system using more than one magnet.  Indeed, improvements in medical treatment continue, and among these recent innovations is the use of magnets to pull harmful bacteria/pathogens from patients.

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