Rochester actuator device takes the guesswork out of a common medical procedure – Post Bulletin
ROCHESTER — In emergency medicine, doctors and first responders strive to be quick and efficient in sometimes chaotic environments to save lives.
The drive for greater efficiency has spurred the improvement of many devices and procedures used in emergency situations.
The Rochester doctor noticed during his training that one procedure was in dire need of an update. Dr. John Aho taught how to treat pneumothorax, a condition that occurs when a patient’s lungs collapse and air leaks into the space between the lungs and the chest wall.
Aho remembers sitting in the ambulance garage being taught how to use a syringe to poke a hole in a patient’s chest to release trapped air. The procedure is called needle thoracostomy or decompression.
He was told that the only way to know if the procedure was successful and if it didn’t need to be done again was to listen for the “gurgling” sound of air being released,
“But we were doing those procedures and we didn’t hear them. And I said, ‘This procedure is fake. This is 2022. We should be better than this,” Aho recalls. “It’s basically a guessing game. … Most paramedics you talk to will admit they’ve done the procedure a few times and heard that rush of air maybe once.”
A pneumothorax is usually a traumatic emergency, which means that treatment is very often carried out in an ambulance or helicopter or even on the battlefield. Needle thoracostomy should be performed quickly in environments that are usually noisy.
“We judged our success or failure based on some procedure based on some sound signal in a loud environment. … The visual area is much more obvious,” Aho said. “Using visual confirmation means that everyone around the patient can see that the procedure was successful. There is no doubt that the procedure either worked or it failed.”
It reinforces the idea that doctors and nurses already use a visual device to determine if a breathing tube is inserted correctly. A special piece of litmus paper turns from blue to yellow when exhaled carbon dioxide comes into contact with it.
To bring that visual confirmation to pneumothorax treatment, Aho created a clear plastic tube or straw with a piece of litmus paper that attaches to a needle angiocatheter. He calls it
Testing on animals, Aho found that the color change is almost instantaneous, making it faster than the listening method. This is valuable in an emergency situation, where seconds count.
After about five years of development and testing, Aho licensed the research from the Mayo Clinic. He left his position at the clinic and together with Sasha Gentling founded a new company in Rochester, Pneumatic Inc.
While Pneumeric is still young, it is already attracting attention and awards.
Pneumeric competed in 2022
competition, which is considered one of the best business competitions in the United States. The Rochester company faced off against 2,595 other Minnesota startups in the annual competition.
The company was named runner-up in the Life Science/Health IT division. However, it was also honored by
which selected Pneumeric as the Top Greater Minnesota Team.
also singled out Pneumeric as the best team in southern Minnesota.
Both Gentling and Aho grew up in Rochester and still live here, so they expect the future of their company to be here. They are working with a Minnesota manufacturer to make the Capnospot device.
While operating in very different spaces, the Pneumeric can generally be compared to the Nanodropper,
who won the 2021 Minnesota Cup grand prize.
makes a precision eye dropper that universally fits most eye medication bottles to reduce medication wastage and improve the patient experience.
“That’s a decent comparison. It’s simple. It’s light. That’s cheap. It’s something you latch onto for something else,” Aho said.
Gentling explained that Pneumeric is targeting a large market for its product.
“We’re talking about every ambulance, every medical helicopter, every ED and combat medicine situation,” she said. “These are not used daily, but this is something that would probably be used a few times a month.”
Litmus paper expires, so unused Pneumeric Capnospots will need to be replaced regularly.
Pneumeric has raised a solid capital base and is now moving forward to bring its device to market. Gentling and Aho hope to have Capnospots sold and stocked in ambulances and hospitals by the summer of 2023.
They see it as a simple improvement to make the trauma procedure easier and more efficient, which will help save lives.
“There is so much guesswork in the clinical space. “We like to think that everything is very, very high-tech, but it’s not,” Aho said. “This replaces the guesswork with a clear sign of success.”
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