Removing smoke without ire

Cardiff University spin-out Asalus is launching a range of medical devices that it claims will significantly improve the safety and efficiency of laparoscopic surgery.

Founded on the inventions of Neil Warren, manager of the Wales Institute of Minimal Access Therapy (WIMAT), the group believes that in the next few years its latest instruments will change the way doctors perform keyhole surgery on the abdomen.

Dominic Griffiths, director of the group, said that surgeons are currently faced with a range of difficulties in performing these operations, including smoke contamination (caused by electrosurgical ablation), traumatic tissue removal and a cooling down of the body cavity. ’A lot of these problems can be overcome using better-designed instruments,’ explained Griffiths. ’For instance, smoke filling the operating area is a common problem for surgeons during laparoscopy. Existing technology sucks the smoke out of the body using a vacuum. This not only cools the body down, but also dries it out.’

Griffiths added that an alternative would be to let the smoke escape through incisions in the body. However this can contaminate the operating theatre and is not ideal for longer operations, which can take up to four to six hours.

Asalus claims its smoke-removal device removes the need for both of these methods. Based on existing technology used in the electronic and automotive industry, the system creates a needle-sized incision that can remove the smoke instantaneously without altering the body temperature of the patient.

Using funding from venture capitalist Fusion IP, Asalus plans to commercialise its smoke-clearance device, alongside a novel access port and multifunctional manipulator, by 2012. The group has filed a patent for all three systems and hopes to release further details in the next six months.