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Novel Device Helps Remove Smoke in the Operating Room

The removal of surgical smoke from operating rooms, a recognized workplace hazard that has lately raised concerns among surgeons and operating room staff, is made possible by a new device developed by University of Chicago Professor of Surgery J. Michael Millis.

The detrimental effects of smoke produced by electrosurgical instruments used in the OR have been demonstrated in numerous studies. The smoke's side effects can vary from irritation of the eyes, nostrils, and throat to long-term pulmonary conditions. The smoke may also contain chemicals and fragments of bone, tissue, and/or macromolecules. It may also impair eyesight while performing surgery.

According to Millis, the most popular device presently available is shaped like a cone and uses just one surgical tool. Additionally, the gadget makes it difficult to use that surgical tool.

A semi-hollow ring with one or more interior voids, each with an air input, and numerous tiny holes confronting the center of the ring make up Millis' invention. It can be connected to the forced air and suction lines (or both) found in traditional OR configurations. The ring can be placed around the surgical site or on top of existing wound protectors to help minimize smoke.

The Polsky Center and Millis worked together to create the device. Ben Cox, Polsky's head of technology development and IP, worked with Millis to create the initial designs and drawings. The Polsky Center is continuously working to provide engineering support for medical devices from University of Chicago clinicians, including creation of computer-aided design (CAD) drawings and connections to local manufacturers. This design help is a part of that effort.

The Polsky Fab Lab created the prototypes that were used to verify the device and improve its design. The Polsky Fab Lab, overseen by Assistant Director Elizabeth Koprucki, keeps a complete inventory of cutting-edge machinery for manufacturing and prototyping.

Now, Millis wants to collaborate with a producer who can help optimize the device and get it ready for mass manufacturing. In the end, he believes that this product will have a beneficial effect on the medical industry.

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