Devices & Diagnostics

Med tech startup aims to make intubations safer with automated cuff inflation syringe

When endotracheal intubations are performed on critically ill patients in the intensive care unit or by emergency medical respondents,there is a risk that the cuff is improperly inflated. Both overinflation and underinflation of the cuff results in extended hospital stay for patients and is thus expensive. But underinflation is more problematic in that it increases […]

When endotracheal intubations are performed on critically ill patients in the intensive care unit or by emergency medical respondents,there is a risk that the cuff is improperly inflated.

Both overinflation and underinflation of the cuff results in extended hospital stay for patients and is thus expensive. But underinflation is more problematic in that it increases the risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia, which costs billions of dollars to treat.

A Lenexas, Kansas startup appears to have hit upon a solution. Instead of having to rely on cuff pressure measuring devices, Spiritus Tech has developed a cuff inflation syringe that is designed to reach the optimal pressure automatically without requiring such gauges.

The Spiritus Cuff Inflation Syringe is a disposable endotracheal tube cuff (ETTc) pressure device that automatically inflates to a final cuff pressure of 25cmH20. To ensure a perfect seal, the cuff pressure will initially inflate up to 75cmH2o but then automatically drop down to 25cmH20, said Brandon Close, the startup’s co-founder and president.

The new product, cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in May, also requires no training because it functions like a typical syringe used in intubations Close said.

Further, not only is the product safer for patients – lowering the chance for tissue damage in the throat and ventilator-associated pneumonia – it is cheaper too, Close said.

At $10 to $15 per unit, they would cost far less than the mechanical devices that measure cuff pressure.

“[Those] retail for between $280 and $310 right now and they require mechanical calibration annually,” he said.

Close is looking to license the technology or partner with one of four firms – Covidien, Teleflex, Smiths Medical, Kimberly-Clark – that dominate the respiratory market. Covidien is the top choice because they “own the endotracheal tube market,” Close said. Ideally he would like the syringe to come packaged with Covidien’s endotracheal tubes, so that when emergency medical personnel are treating patients they can simply grab the tube and know that the cuff will inflate to that optimal pressure.

So far, Spiritus Tech, which is part of an incubator named Biosciencec and Technology Business Center, has secured $75,000 in seed funding after the product won market clearance in addition to a grant it received from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation.

It has begun manufacturing on a limited scale but Close frankly admitted that it would be far easier and quicker to get the product in front of customers if a deal could be struck with the likes of a firm like Covidien.

Those discussions with Covidien and the other three companies may begin at the AARC (American Association for Respiratory Care) Congress in New Orleans in November.

[Photo Credit: Big Stock Photo]