Surgeons Pioneer Bypass Material

June 10, 2003
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GRAND RAPIDS — Another step in improving gastric bypass surgery and reducing complications was made last week, when a new reinforcement material was used for the first time in the world. Spectrum Health and Michigan Medical PC Surgeon Randal Baker used a bio-absorbable staple line reinforcement material that should reduce complications such as leaking and infections.

Baker and his partner, James Foote, M.D., are among some of the first surgeons in the country to treat obesity through laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery. The Centers for Disease Control states that obesity has risen at an epidemic rate during the past 20 years and Michigan is considered the state with the second highest obesity rate in the country.

Many diseases are obesity related, such as heart disease, sleep apnea, certain cancers, stroke, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The new product is an improvement over the reinforcement material currently being used, which does not dissolve over time. W.L. Gore and Associates developed the new material, SEAMGUARD Bio-absorbable Staple Line Reinforcement Material, with the assistance of Baker and Foote.

A primary part of a gastric bypass is the surgical construction of a new, much smaller stomach pouch. Stapling portions of the stomach creates this pouch. This technique can cause bleeding at the staple line. In addition, pressure can build along that line, which can result in leaks.

This material reinforces the staple line, where portions of the new pouch walls are connected. Lying over the line while the tissue is stapled, it bridges the two pieces of tissue, significantly increasing the strength of the connection while also reducing bleeding.

In early 2002, Baker and Foote were among the first surgeons in the U.S. to use any kind of staple line reinforcement. The reinforcement is needed until tissue healing is complete. Permanent materials have a risk of migration and/or erosion, whereas re-absorbable material cannot migrate or erode as it completely disappears.

“Bleeding and leaks have always been issues associated with any type of stomach or bowel surgery,” said Baker. “Because of this, we at MMPC have actively been performing research and developing innovative techniques to make weight-reduction surgery safer for the patient. This re-absorbable material is a significant step forward.”

Gore representatives selected Baker to be the first in the world to use this new product because of his previous research with staple line reinforcement and he and his partner’s ongoing assistance in product development, said Fred Walburn, a Gore product specialist.

“Their interest in improving gastric bypass surgery resulted in their participation in evaluating various prototypes of the new bio-absorbable staple line material that we were developing. Their participation in testing, product evaluations, familiarity with the product and their interest in improving surgical techniques makes Drs. Baker and Foote the ideal surgeons to be the first to use this revolutionary staple line reinforcement material.”

SEAMGUARD Bioabsorbable Staple Line Reinforcement Material will be introduced to bariatric surgeons at the upcoming meeting of the American Society of Bariatric Surgery in Boston, Mass., June 17-21.

Baker was among the first surgeons in Michigan to use a laparoscopic technique for gastric bypass surgery. He and Foote have performed approximately 700 cases total and do 12 to 16 surgeries each week. More information is available at www.mmpc.com        

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