Solutions for Improved Outcomes

Solutions for Improved Patient Outcomes

Surgical Repair Technique for Pelvic Organ Prolapse

A Carle Illinois College of Medicine student aims to improve surgical treatment for one of the main causes of urinary incontinence in older women. The new approach applies techniques commonly used for hernia surgeries to the surgical repair of prolapsed pelvic organs, resulting in shorter, safer, and less costly procedures for thousands of women each year.

When other treatments fail, many pelvic organ prolapse patients undergo laparoscopic surgery to suspend the vagina or uterus using a mesh sling that is sewn in place inside the pelvic region. The suturing process is tedious, accounting for about half the total time required for the reconstructive surgery.

Carle Illinois medical student Christine Chien (Class of 2023) designed a new solution called GynTack, a surgical stapler that would attach the supporting mesh to tissue inside the pelvis using absorbable tacks like those commonly used in hernia surgeries. Chien’s device is designed to navigate the tight spaces within the pelvis and deploy the tacks with controlled force to protect the delicate tissues in the vaginal wall. Chien estimates mesh fixation surgery time can be reduced by as much as 1.5 hours when using absorbable tacks, saving about $3000 per procedure.

Physician Innovators Breathe New Life into Old Spirometer Designs

Physician innovators at Carle Illinois College of Medicine have improved a device that helps prevent pneumonia in patients recovering from surgery. They’ve reengineered a traditional incentive spirometer making it easier to use and more effective. The innovation could save lives and staff time at hospitals across the country.

Traditional incentive spirometers are meant to encourage surgery patients to practice deep-breathing exercises to prevent fluid collection in their lungs following surgery. However, they can confuse patients and put them at risk of not using them correctly. Carle Illinois students Roxana Azimi and Linus Lee’s device is set change that.

“We kept seeing patients blow into the spirometer rather than inhaling. It just really does not look very intuitive at all. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, but we think the new design is an important visual cue to get patients to inhale and use the device correctly,” Lee explained.

SureThread: Inserter Designed for Intra-Operative Use

The intrauterine device (IUD) is among the most effective forms of birth control. Typically, an IUD is easily removed through strings that can be seen and grasped during a pelvic exam. But when IUDs are placed after a Cesarian-section, the strings seldom make their way through the cervix, making removal difficult and, in some cases, deterring patients from receiving IUDs after childbirth.

Carle Illinois College of Medicine students Valerie Chen and Matthew Lee sought out to change that. They partnered with students in the Department of Bioengineering to develop SureThread, a novel IUD insertion device specifically designed for IUD insertion after C-section. It is the first IUD inserter specifically designed for intra-operative use and improves IUD string placement, which is crucial when it comes time to remove the IUD. This device holds enormous promise to improving accessibility and quality of post-partum contraception in a key step forward in reproductive health.