SBIR Phase I: Novel Device for Maintaining Continuous Fluid Drainage in Small-Bore Chest Tubes after Cardiothoracic Surgery

Period of Performance: 01/01/2016 - 06/30/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Esculon LLC
6825 Pine St Stop C4 Array
Omaha, NE 68106
Firm POC, Principal Investigator


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to improve outcomes for cardiothoracic surgery patients by ensuring proper post-surgical drainage and allowing for use of small-bore chest tubes. In the United States, approximately 750,000 major cardiothoracic surgeries are performed each year. These patients receive at least one chest tube to drain fluid and facilitate proper healing, but approximately 36% of chest tubes become clogged. Patients with clogged chest tubes are more likely to experience post-surgical complications, which can result in life-threatening conditions and significantly increase the cost of care. To mitigate the risk of clogging, surgeons typically use large-bore chest tubes, which are more likely to be misplaced and to cause injury to surrounding organs. The novel device under development addresses these issues by preventing clog formation in small-bore chest tubes, thus maintaining proper fluid drainage. Anticipated impacts of the device include reduced time to ambulation and discharge, hospital readmissions, and nursing time. Commercially, the device addresses a $300 million initial market opportunity and has the potential to save the U.S. healthcare system approximately $1.7 billion per year from costs associated with preventable chest tube complications. The proposed project aims to develop a novel chest tube device to solve the clinical need of maintaining proper fluid drainage after cardiothoracic surgery while enabling the use of small-bore chest tubes. Existing systems are prone to clogging, which can lead to life-threatening conditions, longer hospital stays, and increased costs. The objective of this research is to continue device development and demonstrate statistically significant superiority in drainage effectiveness over standard large-bore chest tubes in vivo. In this project, the ability of the device to maintain continuous, clog-free fluid drainage in small-bore chest tubes will be assessed in a benchtop simulation model, while certain design characteristics are optimized. Subsequently, the effectiveness of the device will be demonstrated under normal and challenged conditions in an animal model and compared against the performance of standard large-bore chest tubes. Successful conclusion of this effort will result in an optimized version of the device that is suitable for use in clinical studies, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the device in humans.