At a time when waves of stabbings are rampant throughout Israel and many victims are experiencing life-threatening chest trauma, the BioDesign: Medical Innovation team of the Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University have invented a device that shortens the procedure time of inserting a life-saving chest tube from about 15 minutes to less than 30 seconds.

The reason it is so important to insert a chest tube in the patient very quickly is that chest trauma often leads to potentially fatal pneumothorax, where air accumulates in the space which separates the lungs from the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse and the patient to suffocate. This scenario is believed to be responsible for over a third of preventable deaths following terror attacks and on the battlefield.

Currently, the physician must engage in a two-step procedure. First, the thorax, where the lungs and other vital organs are located, must be decompressed. This is followed by the separating of the tissue to insert a chest tube, which will drain air and blood, allowing the lung to re-inflate. “This is a very laborious and technically difficult procedure,” reports Dr. Ariel Drori, an internal medicine expert at Hadassah, “leading caregivers to neglect the second procedure in favor of rapid evacuation to the hospital.”

To address this challenge, Dr. Drori partnered with Yoav Kan-Tor and Bettina Nadorp, engineering students at the Hebrew University’s Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering, along with Dr. Liran Levy, a Hadassah pulmonologist, and Chen Goldstein, a Hebrew University business graduate student. Together they developed ThoraXS, a single-step, rapid life-saving solution. Its closed-knife shape allows the physician to penetrate the pleural space (between the lungs and the chest wall) and its mechanical opening mechanism enables the physician to open a portal (point of entry) with one hand and quickly insert a chest tube with the other.

“Our students responded to terror attacks by developing life-saving medical devices, an approach that is the very essence of our BioDesign: Medical Innovation program,” comments Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, Director of the Grass Center. “ThoraXS is a life-saving innovation that exemplifies our commitment to helping the local and global communities through practical research and development projects.”

Nahmias added that ThoraXS’s market potential was estimated at $300 million annually, and that continued investment is actively being sought.

The innovations produced by the Biodesign program participants are commercialized by Yissum, the technology transfer company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Hadasit, the technology transfer company of the Hadassah Medical Center.

BioDesign: Medical Innovation is a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to medical innovation, created by Hadassah and Hebrew University. Sponsored by Boston Scientific and the Terumo Medical Corporation, the program brings together outstanding medical fellows and bioengineering and business graduate students, and tutors them in the science and practice of taking a medical innovation to market. The program is chaired by Prof. Chaim Lotan, Director of Hadassah’s Heart Institute, and Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, Director of the Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering at the Hebrew University.

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