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por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | March 23, 2015
Tom O'Brien
This year there has been about 221,200 new cases of lung cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Many of those patients will have to undergo thoracic surgery.

Ethicon recently released the new ECHELON FLEX Powered Vascular Stapler for thoracic surgery with the narrowest anvil of any stapler on the market.

DOTmed News had the opportunity to speak with Tom O'Brien, vice president of global strategic marketing at Ethicon, about what benefits this technology can bring to surgeons and hospital administrators.

DOTmed News: What benefits does this new ECHELON FLEX Powered Vascular Stapler have the potential to bring to thoracic surgeons that other vascular staplers can't?

Tom O'Brien: We see many potential benefits for this device, particularly around precision and stability. When we look at how we measure up against the competition, our ECHELON FLEX Powered Vascular Stapler enables greater precision and stability than currently available staplers during thoracic procedures, including VATS lobectomy (Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery) for lung cancer.

The device features a 26 percent narrower anvil, a 26 percent thinner shaft and 11 percent greater articulation than Endo GIA Curved Tip Reload with Tri-Staple Technology, from the manufacturer Covidien. Our stapler has been designed specifically for transections of fragile and/or difficult-to-reach vessels, which are critical focus areas for thoracic surgeons.

DOTmed News: From a hospital administrator perspective, why should they consider purchasing this powered vascular stapler for their hospital?

TO: Hospital administrators have told us that there is a need to optimize stapling solutions for vascular transection in thoracic surgery. We know from working with surgeons that the most stressful part of thoracic surgery is ligating the pulmonary artery and vein.

Surgeons must take extra precautions to avoid complications from these thin and fragile pulmonary vessels that are not only challenging to access with traditional endoscopic stapling devices, but also close to very sensitive structures.

DOTmed News: How was Ethicon able to develop it to have the narrowest anvil on the market?

TO: Every device we design is born out of customer insights. Based on specific inputs from thoracic surgeons, this device was designed with two (2) rows of staples on each side of the cutline.

This enables a narrower end effector, when you compare it to devices with three (3) rows, potentially allowing for a smaller tunnel required for placing the stapler under the pulmonary artery or vein.

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