Each year, approximately 185,000 amputations are performed in this country. One of the biggest challenges facing amputees is constant, severe pain caused by neuromas—balls of raw nerve fiber that grow at the end of severed nerves.
Research conducted by U-M Professor of Plastic Surgery Paul Cederna demonstrated that this pain could be reduced or eliminated by deploying muscle grafts to individual nerves, which would essentially signal these nerves to stop growing. “But the method we were using,” said Cederna, “took up to 30 minutes for each nerve ending. And with an amputation resulting in from 3 to 12 affected nerves, these procedures can be cost-prohibitive.”
In 2013, Cederna and his team, which had grown to include U-M Mechanical Engineering Professor Albert Shih, solved the problem by developing a small, disposable device capable of harvesting, deploying and securing muscle “sheaths” at the point of nerve termination, reducing the capping time for each nerve to as little as five minutes. “ is device, now being licensed to RLS Interventional in Grand Rapids,” says Cederna, “would not have been possible without the support of U-M Tech Transfer and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership, both of whom supplied funding and guidance at critical points over the past several years.”
And, now, thanks to the involvement of the Michigan-based RLS Interventional, a developer, manufacturer and distributor of medical devices worldwide, the procedure could become standard in amputation surgeries.
As RLS Interventional President Ryan Goosen recalls, “We were immediately interested. The device is an excellent match for our business platform, as we’re looking to grow and launch a new product line.”[caption: “We’re very excited at the prospect of adding the neuroma sheath to our product line,” says RLS Interventional CEO Steve Field, “not only because of the market opportunities, but because this technology has the ability to permanently
and cost-effectively eliminate severe pain for so many people.” Pictured (from left) are U-M team members Nick Langhals,
Jeff Plott, Paul Cederna and Jordan Kreda. Not pictured are Albert Shih, Melanie Urbanchek, Cindy Chestek, Grant Kruger and Brent Gillespie.]
[source: U-M Tech Transfer 2015 Impact Report]