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How Medtronic Built A Smarter Stapler

Medtronic's new Signia stapling system is designed with a built-in smart technology to detect the variability of tissue thickness and automatically adjust the stapler's speed during surgery. The goal is to help surgeons fire staples consistently and evenly.

Amanda Pedersen


The handle of Medtronic's Signia stapler includes an LED screen that provides real-time feedback during surgery. 


Medtronic wants you to have a smarter stapler. The Dublin-based company launched a new kind of surgical stapling system, the Signia, with a built-in smart technology designed to detect the variability of tissue thickness and automatically adjust the stapler's speed during surgery.

Learn about the latest in product development, including how to make smarter medical devices, at the BIOMEDevice conference and expo May 3-4, 2017, in Boston.

Human tissue varies in thickness throughout the body and its organ systems. For example, Medtronic noted, tissue is thinnest at the top of the stomach and thickest at the bottom of the stomach near the small intestine. With the Adaptive Firing technology, the new stapler can help surgeons fire staples consistently and evenly, the company said.

Signia is also the first stapler designed to provide surgeons with real-time audible and visual feedback on the handle of the device, according to Medtronic. FDA cleared the Signia stapling system last April, but the company held off on launching the device until after a select group of doctors had tested it out.

"Signia is not just a step change, it's a new innovation for surgery, so we were very deliberate in our approach," Ethan Loiselle, senior director of stapling marketing at Medtronic's Surgical Innovations business, told Qmed. "It was important surgeons fully understood the stapler and were comfortable with an intelligent device."

Loiselle said the company is initially launching Signia in the U.S. market, along with Western Europe and Japan. In fiscal year 2018 Medtronic plans to expand commercialization of the device to Canada, Latin America, additional European markets, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, he said.

The stapler can be used in open or minimally invasive surgery (MIS), including thoracic, bariatric, colorectal, and general surgical procedures, Loiselle said.

The fully-powered stapling system is also designed to be operated with one hand, and includes Medtronic's Tri-Staple technology that is featured in the company's staple reloads.

"Signia marks an important step in our efforts to move the industry from manual stapling to staplers that can provide intelligence and automation," Loiselle said. "Signia's added benefits of fully powered controls enables surgeons to have increased maneuverability and precision when following a MIS technique."

Amanda Pedersen is Qmed's news editor. Contact her at [email protected].

[Image credit: Medtronic plc]

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