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Exoskeleton For Pectus Excavatum Repair

ID: 2018-023 An exoskeleton is proposed as an alternative to the repair of pectus excavatum.

Principal Investigator: Larry Howell

Pectus excavatum is a congenital (present at birth) deformity of the chest wall that causes a sunken breastbone (sternum) and ribs. Pectus excavatum is also called funnel or sunken chest. Severe cases of pectus excavatum can eventually interfere with the function of the heart and lungs. Surgery can correct the deformity. The Nuss procedure involves inserting one or more concave steel bars into the chest underneath the sternum, and the bar is flipped to a convex position to push outward on the sternum to correct the deformity. the bar is removed after about two years. Pectus excavatum surgery can be very painful and opioids are often prescribed. While surgery can be effective in younger children when their sternum and cartilage is more flexible, the growth rate of children can be an issue for the fixed-length bars that are inserted, and use of opioids is particularly problematic.

The proposed exoskeleton has advantages of being less invasive, resulting in quicker recovery time and lower pain levels, which should in turn result in less dependence on pain medication. The exoskeleton can be more easily adjusted to accommodate growth in children after the surgery.

The exoskeleton provides the structure to distribute the reaction force. In a simple embodiment, it can be a small curved plate or bars placed on the anterior chest wall, or it may extend further along the rib cage. It could be part of a corset-like brace that wraps around the body to distribute the load. In extreme cases it could react on other parts of the skeletal structure (pelvis and shoulders).

This technology is related to invention #2018-034 Minimally Invasive Deployable Interbody Fusion Cage - a device to be used in a minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery. The invention consists in a series of rigid links connected via flexible links (a Dployable Serial Flexure Array) that forms a shape when no eternal loads are applied and uncoils into a linear form when sufficient external loads are applied. The device is fed into an opening in the spine in its linear form and once inside a degenerated disk coils into the desired shape where it provides a) a sufficient height correction to the disk b) an angular correction to the adjacent vertebral segments and c) facilitates bone growth (fusion) between the two vertebral segments by withstanding loads and providing space for bone cement.

About the Market:
There is an increasing need for surgical devices that minimally invasive compliant mechanisms can improve upon.

For more information, contact Mike Alder (801-422-3049)

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