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written with contributions from Brendan O’Hallarn

Surgical ToolSurgical correction of pectus excavatum was a complex and somewhat brutal procedure until Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) surgeon Donald Nuss developed a minimally invasive technique to correct it in the 1990s. In the Nuss Procedure, which is now used around the world, the surgeon threads a curved metal bar under the sternum to push it out into a normal position. The bar is then anchored to the ribs and remains in place for approximately two years so the chest wall can harden in its new position. Then the bar is removed during a second surgery.

To solve a manufacturing problem which did not allow the original tool to be autoclaved (heated to high temperatures), the team reached out to David Kenealy, director of R&D CAMEE. Kenealy and R&D CAMEE’s team supervised by Travis Buchanan utilized R&D CAMEE’s CAD-CAM capabilities to create a tool component that could be autoclaved and thus reused for additional patients.

“They sent us the original CAD (computer aided design) drawings, and some aspects of the original tool weren’t suited for manufacturing,” Kenealy stated. “We worked with them to refine the drawings using their understanding of the surgical world and R&D CAMEE’s understanding of the manufacturing world.”

Initial patient testing of the re-manufactured  extraction tool–a device consisting of two metal handles that latch onto the chest cavity bar–has shown promising results. A survey completed by the surgeon indicated that the Pectus Bar Extractor is easier to use, safer and allows a quicker extraction.

The research team hopes to continue to use the re-manufactured tool for the remainder of the clinical trial, which could lead to commercialization of the device. “We ended up with a great solution that will make a real difference in people’s lives. R&D CAMEE is privileged to have been a part of this tremendous story,” Kenealy stated.