Excerpt: As part of our ongoing Vascular Innovation Series in conjunction with The Way To My Heart, Emmy Award-winning Journalist Kym McNicholas interviewed 2010 Vascular Cures Wylie Scholar Bryan Tillman about his latest innovation, a retrievable “Rescue Stent” that is designed to prevent death from severe wounds to the chest and abdomen (called noncompressible torso hemorrhage). As this is something that often happens in combat, he is hopeful that this technology could be used by the military to help save our soldiers.
What is the story behind the technology? Where did it originate?
Dr. Bryan Tillman: As a general surgery resident at Ohio State, I helped save a patient dying from noncompressible torso hemorrhage, which had me thinking about better ways we could approach this problem. Years later I came up with an idea for the retrievable “Rescue Stent” and, with an engineering colleague, we made the first retrievable stent graft.
What need does it address?
The rescue Stent is intended to control bleeding in the chest and abdomen (known as noncompressible hemorrhage). Without prompt intervention upwards of 80% of these patients will die from exsanguination (bleeding out). The Rescue Stent allows us to control hemorrhage rapidly (within minutes and without surgical incisions) but while preserving flow to the rest of the body to avoid complications. It also allows placement by physicians who may not be vascular experts and since it is removable, the risks of long-term complications are reduced.
What is the potential for patient impact?
The Rescue Stent offers the potential to save soldiers on the battlefield as these are some of the most common life-threatening injuries they encounter. Similar injuries happen after civilian trauma and the Rescue Stent could be lifesaving in these otherwise lethal injuries.
Where is the technology in development and what is next?
We are still in early development, which means we are able to approach the real problem of improving life without concerning ourselves with profit.
How can patients or advocates get involved?
It is a major hurdle for young surgeon scientists to get their research careers off the ground. This also comes at a time when research funding has become especially scarce. Support for vascular surgery research, such as through Vascular Cures, can be a way to ensure new treatments for vascular disease in the future.
Anything else we should know?
The retrievable Rescue Stent has become a useful platform for a number of other conditions, we have learned. We have since used a similar concept for an approach to improve the recovery of donor organs for transplantation, drug delivery, and even to improve elective vascular procedures.