Surgical solutions from Silicon Valley

With a practice in San Jose, California – the heart of Silicon Valley – perhaps it’s no surprise that orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nathaniel Cohen has been an innovator in the field of medical technology. In fact, he is the embodiment of the entrepreneurial mindset that led to the creation of startup high-technology companies that are such a major force in the economy. He identified patient needs and set about developing the technology to meet that demand.    


OPINION: Endovascular Stroke Treatment is Superior – Let’s Get to Work!

Guest Post from Clemens M. Schirmer, MD, PhD, FAANS, FAHA (left) and Henry H. Woo, MD, FAANS, FACS, FAHA (right)

Stroke from blockage of major blood vessels, known as acute ischemic stroke, causes lasting brain damage and is devastating to patients. This type of stroke becomes a ready-made target for procedures that reopen the vessel and restore blood flow easily performed using “endovascular” (from within the blood stream) techniques. Cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgeons have long been at the forefront of these type of procedures.

A groundbreaking technique for minimally invasive surgery—shared with thousands

Dr. Kate O’Hanlan, the daughter of a surgeon and a nurse, was exposed to the world of medicine at a very early age. She didn’t let the fact that the profession was male-dominated at the time deter her—she was focused on her goal of becoming a doctor. In medical school, Dr. O’Hanlan first studied cardiology but gradually shifted her focus to women’s health. She completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology and went on to train other doctors in gynecologic cancer surgery.

The clarity of innovation in minimally invasive surgery

Dr. Wayne Poll, a laparoscopic surgeon in Columbus, Ohio, humorously describes himself as a “humble country urologist.” However, he is much more than that. He is a prime example of a medical technology physician-innovator utilizing clinical experience with patients to identify a need and then develop a solution. The result is a one-of-a-kind device that keeps laparoscopic lenses clean during surgery, saving time and money and significantly improving the surgical process for physicians and patients.

A robotic innovation that saves lives

Dr. Bargar was originally educated as an engineer with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering and a masters in mechanical engineering. When he made the transition to orthopaedic surgery, he wanted to bring the precision and accuracy of the engineering world to joint replacement surgery. Dr. Bargar has spent nearly three decades exploring innovative medical technology. His solution? A robot by his side. Dr. Bargar envisioned a process to install a customized implant using a robotic arm in conjunction with computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing.


His idea ballooned into minimally invasive surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is common today, but that wasn’t the case when Dr. Thomas Fogarty was a high school student scrub technician at a hospital. There, he observed surgery to remove an embolism – or blood clot – blocking a blood vessel that involved multiple procedures and large incisions. This often resulted in amputation and death. Though only a teenager, Dr. Fogarty worked with surgeons at the hospital to improve on this procedure and improve patient outcomes. 

Setting the pace for medical innovation

Like many medical technology innovators, Dr. Robert Fischell identified a patient need—longer-lasting batteries for pacemakers—and then worked to develop the product to meet it. In the early 1970s, Dr. Fischell sought to produce a better pacemaker that would spare patients the necessity of undergoing surgery every two years to ensure that their device had enough battery power to function. 

Restoring sight to millions

Millions of Americans who no longer need glasses following laser eye surgery can thank innovators like Dr. Stephen Trokel.  Dr. Trokel’s vision for use of advanced medical technology in the field of ophthalmology has resulted in millions of patients who can now see clearly. Trained in engineering and physics, he pursued a medical degree in ophthalmology and, as a clinical and research professor of ophthalmology at Columbia University, began investigating the new field of laser eye surgery.

Visualizing better heart care for patients

Dr. Paul Yock was a fellow in cardiology in the early 1980s when he became interested in the use of balloon catheters to treat blocked coronary arteries.  This new treatment, known as balloon angioplasty, was a breakthrough but also problematic: approximately 40% of patients experienced restenosis, a condition in which arterial blockage recurs after the procedure, and would require additional procedures that could be painful and time-consuming. The reason for this was not fully known, poor visualization was a problem for doctors, who relied on a technique producing a limited two-dimensional view of the blood vessel.

Collaboration produces breakthrough diagnostics

As a child, Dr. Wayne Grody was fascinated by a Life magazine cover featuring an image of DNA’s double helix structure.  That fascination led him to a career as a pioneer in the field of genetics and diagnostic molecular pathology. His close collaboration with medical technology companies enabled Dr. Grody to create and improve the cystic fibrosis genetic mutation test – to the benefit of expectant parents all over America.