After a decade of research and development, Mechanical Engineering professor Shorya Awtar and his startup FlexDex released their revolutionary, low-cost, intuitive surgical instrument for minimally invasive procedures. Communications and Marketing promoted the milestone with a news release and video, which went viral on social media — viewed more than 475K times shared more than 4.8K times, MIT Technology Review covered the story, as did First Bell and many other outlets. In addition, this article drove more that 14,000 people to the Michigan Engineering website.
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In an era of spiraling healthcare cost concerns, a new $500 surgical instrument developed at the University of Michigan is vying to take the place of a $2 million robot for certain minimally invasive procedures.
U-M startup FlexDex Surgical’s first product—a simple, ergonomic and intuitive “needle driver” for stitching inside the body—has been used for the first time in a series of operations. FlexDex has begun shipping its product throughout the US.
“This is the culmination of ten years of effort and to know that the device is performing exactly as we expected it would, impacting patients’ lives in a positive way—it’s an amazing feeling. We always saw the potential, but now it’s crystallized,” said pediatric surgeon Jim Geiger, the Daniel H. Teitelbaum M.D. Collegiate Professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School and pediatric surgeon at U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
FlexDex is an all-mechanical platform that mounts to the surgeon’s arm. It uses a unique engineering approach to enable the tip of the instrument to mimic the direction of movement of the surgeon’s hand.