USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

SBIR Phase II:Detection and Prevention of Tissue Trauma During Surgical…

Award Information

National Science Foundation
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Physcient, Inc.
121 Pinecrest Road Durham, NC 27705 5822
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: SBIR Phase II:Detection and Prevention of Tissue Trauma During Surgical Retraction
Agency: NSF
Contract: 1026703
Award Amount: $499,986.00


This Small Business Innovation Research Phase II project will develop a hand-held controller for motor-powered surgical instruments. The controller will enable automated operation of the surgical instrument, including biomechanically informed algorithms, that decrease trauma to tissues during surgery. This controller will be first deployed on a new thoracic retractor, an instrument used to pry apart the rigid tissues of the chest to provide surgical access to organs inside the chest, e.g. the heart and lungs. Thoracic retractors are used in two common thoracic procedures for surgical access: (1) thoracotomy, in which an incision is made between the ribs and the thoracic retractor pries apart the ribs, and (2) sternotomy, in which the sternum is bisected and the thoracic retractor pries apart the two halves of the thoracic cage. Current thoracic retractors are simple mechanical jacks developed in the 1930's, and they severely traumatize the tissues of the chest by, for example, breaking ribs and tearing ligaments. The controller developed in this SBIR will enable automated retraction of the thoracic tissues, including an algorithm that can both detect that a fracture is about to occur and then avert that fracture, thereby greatly decreasing trauma to the thoracic tissues. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is both to improve patient's lives by decreasing the trauma of surgery (decreasing both post-surgical pain and complications) and to decrease the cost of health care by reducing the amount of medical care a patient needs after surgery (both decreasing the length of hospital stays after surgery and reducing the incidence of expensive complications). Nearly 600,000 people have a sternotomy or a thoracotomy each year in the US, and recovery from these procedures is frequently marked by significant post-operative respiratory dysfunction and pain. The new surgical instrument controller being developed in this project will improve post-surgical recovery for all of these patients. Importantly, this is the first application of biomechanically-informed algorithms to surgical retraction, and we anticipate their applicability to many more surgical procedures, generating both significant commercial opportunity and significant improvements in health care.

Principal Investigator:

Hugh C. Crenshaw

Business Contact:

Hugh C. Crenshaw
Small Business Information at Submission:

121 Pinecrest Road Durham, NC 27705

EIN/Tax ID: 261815964
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No