Surgical Device – Patent Pending
UPDATE //. 160510
I changed the title of this post from “Surgical Device – Provisional Patent” to “Surgical Device – Patent Pending.” The International Application Number is PCT/US14/57768, filled on 140926. The abstract of the application is as follows:
“The present invention discloses a new and improved endoscopic-enabled mouth gag for routine ENT procedures, such as adenoidectomy and nasopharyngeal biopsy. The invention modifies the existing mouth gag, provides a stable and adjustable placement for an endoscopic device potentially employed during an ENT procedure, and is to replace the outdated surgical method where the surgical field is visualized indirectly via a handheld mirror (with or without the preexisting mouth gag). The inventive endoscopic-enabled mouth gag not only provides enhanced visualization of the surgical field for a clinician, assistants, and trainees, but also enables a clinician to perform the procedure bimanually (with both hands).”
UPDATE //. 150111
In September of 2014, after the University of Missouri concluded a further prior art search, the team decided to file a patent and pursue prototype development. The patent should publish in March of 2015, in which I would be able to provide further details as to the nature of the device. In the meantime, we are waiting to hear the decision of the Coulter Foundation as to our request for $25k in seed funding. Should we be chosen as a recipient, we will proceed to create three prototype iterations.
From October of 2012 through September of 2013, I collaborated with a university doctor in developing a novel surgical device to aid in surgeries behind the oral cavity. For the sake of privacy, I am unable to provide any details as the device has only been filed through a provisional patent. However, I would like to describe the work I did to help get it there.
In October of 2012, the day prior to leaving for a 3D printing conference in London, I was approached by a business developer in the technology review department who was familiar with my prototyping and design work. He told me that a student was unable to 3D model a novel medical device for a doctor and was leaving the project. The team invited me to take his place in order for the patent process to continue as planned.
I happily accepted and, after meeting with the doctor and his associates, began modeling as they requested. My work involved improving upon an existing medical device (pictured below) to the specs of an already submitted provisional patent.
Once completing this digital model in January to the required specs and creating a number of viable prototypes using the 3D printing technique SLS, I approached the doctor to offer my perspective as a mechanical engineer as to the viability of his existing design. In short, I told him it would not work. I believed the existing design would not properly secure and actually damage sensitive (and expensive) medical equipment that was being integrated with the novel device. I proposed a new design that would fix these problems.
The doctor and his team agreed to explore this option, and brought me on to create and prototype a new design. I joined the doctor in the surgery room to observe the existing approach for performing the surgery in question and get my hands on the medical equipment. I took this information to create a number of iterations to my new design, eventually resulting in the model that was filed as a new provisional patent in September of 2013.
This was my first experience in designing a medical device and going through the patent process, and I am very grateful to have had the experience. The administrative team is still deciding which steps to take next in pursuing the patent process.