Millions of laparoscopic surgeries, or keyhole surgeries, are performed each year worldwide. One of the most common complications experienced is dealing with bowel spilling, obstructing the surgeons view. A common solution is to place the patient in a steep head-down position, a so-called Trendelenburg position, and use forceps to retract the bowel. However, this can significantly increase the risk of intraoperative complications such as increased intracranial and intraocular pressure, lower blood pressure and impaired circulation.
The Irish startup Skellig Surgical is determined to improve laparoscopic surgery and has developed SecuRetract, a medical device that will improve access and outcomes by gently retracting impeding organs. The device is deployed through a standard 5 mm diameter trocar, which once positioned inside the patient can be inflated. When inflated, the device is curved, creating a unique hook that gently and effectively retract impeding organs from the operating field.
Unlike existing retractors, SecuRetract is specifically designed to maximize small bowel retraction while simplifying the procedure, ultimately making surgery easier and safer. Commercially available retractors can generate high pressures on the soft tissue, leading to injury or perforation. SecuRetract is minimally invasive, minimizing trauma on entry and its soft inflatable interface eliminates the risk of injury to internal organs, leading to better surgical outcomes. It outperforms current solutions by reducing the dependency of the Trendelenburg position, eliminating associated risks. Over 7.5 million laparoscopic procedures are performed each year worldwide, and the innovative device has the potential to be used in as many as a third of these procedures, significantly reducing intraoperative trauma and improving surgical outcomes for millions of patients.
The development of the device started with the identification of a clinical need by Emmet Andrews and Michael O’Riordain, two colorectal surgeons based in Cork University teaching hospitals, and has been further validated by over fifty international surgeons. The startup was founded by Conor O’Shea and Pádraig Cantillon-Murphy after participating in a biodesign module at UCC, linking clinicians with interdisciplinary student teams to solve real life clinical problems. The development of SecuRetract has largely been funded by grants from Enterprise Ireland, and Skellig Surgical has been recognized with multiple awards, including the CorkBIC Global Investor Challenge, looking for the most investible startups and entrepreneurs.