I am a left-handed surgeon. Sometimes that means dealing with some particular circumstances when you’re dealing with instruments that have handedness like needle drivers and scissors. When I was a surgical intern, I was tasked with being proficient at suturing, but the needle drivers available to me were made for right-handed people. I quickly became keenly aware of all the steps needed for a suturing process because I had to adapt my hand movements to a right-handed needle driver. That got me thinking. What if I could design a new suturing device that could be equally used by right-handed or left-handed surgeons like, and that could decrease the number of steps in the suturing process? My eureka moment came when I was at a sushi restaurant, as I picked up a grain of rice with two round chopsticks with great precision. In that instant, I realized that I had discovered a great design that I could extrapolate to an instrument capable of handling a needle and gliding it through tissues by rotating the rollers, thereby decreasing the number of steps used during the suturing process.
The suturing process is composed of many discontinuous and repetitive steps. Some of these steps involved opening and closing the needle driver repeatedly to release and re-grasp the needle. It also requires rotating your wrist to drive the needle. Although seemingly simple, trying to twist your wrist and suture in a hard-to-reach location is difficult, ergonomically uncomfortable, time-consuming, and prone to repetitive steps. Similar to the grain of rice that I could grasp and hold or slide between the chopsticks, improving the suturing process meant changing the relationship between the needle and the needle driver from static to dynamic, which means that the needle could move relative to the needle driver when being clamped down by it. Doing this would allow a fluid, continuous movement of the needle through the tissue without the need to release it, re-grasp it, or twist your wrist to drive it. One day, watching a printer, the solution took shape. The coordinated rotation of the rollers propelled the paper sheet between them either forward or backward. Simultaneously clamping down two rollers to rotate the needle became the basic concept behind the Drive’ N Roll design. Early prototypes have shown functional attributes such as:
A recent market research survey confirmed that we, surgeons, are unsatisfied with currently available suturing options for laparoscopic procedures. We seek better needle handling, improved access in hard-to-reach spaces, shorter times for suturing procedures, and improved ergonomics.
By design, the Drive’N Roll was developed to shorten the learning curve and mental workload associated with expert laparoscopic suturing and reduce healthcare costs by replacing some of the more expensive suturing equipment currently in use. It intends to minimize needle handling and eliminate steps because it allows the surgeon to retrieve the needle from the tissue using the same rolling mechanism, reverting roller rotation to reposition the needle as desired for the next tissue bite. These functionalities are built into a design that looks, feels, and works like a traditional needle driver should the surgeon want to use it that way. This versatility allows the Drive’ N Roll to behave like two instruments in one. It provides surgeons with a familiar yet capable tool that can make laparoscopic suturing simpler. Yet, this is only the beginning. We are already designing needles that will maximize the device’s capabilities. Like other innovations, these capabilities will be brought to life by you, the surgeons, developing new techniques and applications. Would you like to test the Drive’N Roll? Please apply to one of our Demo-days! I am eager to hear from you!