Lifewatch: Nitinol ring

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Traditionally the treatment plan includes surgery, staples, and a slow recovery.  Now, doctors are using a powerful tool that could make the healing process faster and safer.

Dr. Daniel Marcus uses a metal ring made of Nitinol instead of staples when treating colon cancer.  Using an applicator, he positions the ring in the colon.

Gradually over the next two weeks, the Nitinol springs pull the two parts together, then the ring passes through the body.

"It's sort of like the hem of a skirt or a pair of pants," said Dr. Marcus.  "Once that cuts through and the ring passes, the only thing there is the tissue itself."

Doctors used the ring in more than 1,000 surgeries and colon leak rates dropped below 2%.  Compared to staples, patients got their GI functions back sooner.

The ring can also be used for other GI conditions like inflammatory bowel disease.  It's being used in about 60 hospitals nationwide.

For more information, please contact:
Daniel Marcus, MD
(310) 305-1813
NiTi Surgical Solutions
(866) 225-3197

BACKGROUND: Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last six inches of the colon. Together, they're often referred to as colorectal cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society, 112,000 are diagnosed with colon cancer every year and about 41,000 new cases of rectal cancer are diagnosed each year. Each year more than 50,000 people die from colorectal cancer. It's the second leading cause of death due to cancer for men and women combined. Someone dies from colorectal cancer every 9.3 minutes and more lives are lost each year to colorectal cancer than to breast cancer and AIDS combined.

SCREENING: Even though doctors don't know exactly what causes colorectal cancer, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. People who have a history of colorectal cancer in their family should check with their doctor for advice about when and how often to have screening tests. In general, both men and women at average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening tests, such as colonoscopies, at age 50.

Colon cancer begins with a growth (a polyp) that is not yet cancer. Testing can help your doctor tell whether there is a problem, and some tests can find polyps before they become cancer. Most people who have polyps removed never get colon cancer. If colon cancer is found, you have a good chance of beating it with treatment if it is found early.

COLON CANCER NITINOL RING: Traditionally, colon cancer surgery involves cutting away the tumor and stapling the colon back together. A new ring made out of Nitinol (Nickel Titanium) is eliminating the need for sharp staples that can pierce the colon and lead to leaks and infections. The metal ring is made of a shape memory alloy that can be stretched beyond the limits of other materials such as steel. However, the ring returns to its original shape during the healing process. The surgeon uses an applicator to attach the two sides of the ring to the colon. The Nitinol springs inside the ring stretch to bring the ring or the clip to an open state. The elasticity of the Nitinol springs enable the ring to adapt to differences in tissue thickness, uniformly bringing together tissues while applying consistent, controlled pressure for natural healing to occur. When the tissue is healed, within weeks the ring passes out of the body, leaving healthy tissue that shows minimal signs of the surgery. It leaves no foreign material inside the body. The device can be used for many types of surgeries involving GI tract resections. This can include operations for cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis and other GI conditions.

In a recently conducted control study, the device accelerated patients' recovery substantially, and cut their hospital stays by one to two days. Patients also resumed bowel movements sooner compared to surgery involving staples.

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