Securing the future of surgery, one staple at a time
Faced with the challenge of improving stapling performance for consistent outcomes in challenging tissue, Ethicon drew inspiration from its broad and talented supplier base.
Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure often referred to as “keyhole surgery,” has been employed for decades. Though it’s difficult to credit one individual with pioneering the laparoscopic approach, it’s less challenging to pinpoint its effectiveness. Laparoscopy has improved patient outcomes and recovery times over a range of surgical procedures – from gynecological surgeries and resection surgeries to remove cancers, to appendectomies and bariatric procedures.
Over the past several decades, developments in laparoscopic technology have also led to innovative advances in endocutters, the medical devices that both cut and staple tissue in such surgeries. For the surgical teams performing these procedures, the trust they put in every aspect of this equipment is paramount.
Since 2005, Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson MedTech company, has continually focused on the science of stapling to improve outcomes in thicker, challenging tissue. A small but absolutely critical part of the laparoscopic process is the exact moment the staples are fired into the tapered metal pockets of the anvil that form the titanium staples into symmetrical B-shapes. Consistency and reliable performance are essential.
The ECHELON+ Stapler with Gripping Surface Technology (GST) Reloads is the result of this intensive focus, with staples deployed on both sides of the cut line to secure the tissue, improved staple formation and other innovations.
Procuring innovation-driven solutions
This innovation journey began far up the manufacturing supply chain in a collaboration that brought together the company’s procurement team, product designers, and suppliers with expertise in medical devices and manufacturing precision.
The challenge Ethicon put to its suppliers through its Supplier Enabled Innovation Program was to deliver a solution that would help enable every one of these devices to achieve the best staple-line security of any device in the market.
For the project team involved in bringing the enhanced ECHELON+ Stapler to market, this involved two areas where the intersection between product design and the supplier’s manufacturing expertise was critical: the process to create the stapler’s tapered metal pockets and an upgraded anvil profile for a consistent and accurate formation of each titanium staple.
Starting with the procurement department, the team worked with the product designers to identify the right supplier to meet the exact needs of the project.
For any product launch, Johnson & Johnson’s requirements include product reliability as well as the ability to meet product specifications and the demands of product launch timelines.
The ECHELON+ design required finding a supplier with expertise in the specific process required to manufacture the tapered pockets. From there, the manufacturing and delivery of the component parts form another critical part of the manufacturing process—which must not only be precise, but also must be repeatable throughout and able to scale to meet any future demands.
This led the team to a medical device manufacturer with whom Ethicon has an ongoing and trusted relationship. Its expertise in metalworking, plus its proven ability to manufacture other predicate parts of Ethicon’s existing endocutter line, sparked the innovation that led to the ECHELON+ design.
“Our ability to bring our suppliers and our business closer together in our innovation process is delivering critical benefits for us and for surgeons and their patients,” said Tom O’Brien, Worldwide President, Endomechanical, Ethicon, Inc.
Shaping a more seamless and efficient surgical experience
Available in operating rooms in nearly every country around the world, the ECHELON+ Stapler is delivering reliable, secure staple lines for patients across a range of indicated treatments.
“The launch of the ECHELON+ Stapler with GST Reloads was a significant milestone in our continuing commitment to evidence-based innovation that can enhance the surgeon’s experience, help improve patient outcomes and deliver meaningful clinical and economic value. Our goal is to continue to elevate the standard of surgical care,” said Mr. O’Brien.
And while the imprint of each individual staple may never be seen, the innovative collaboration between the designers, engineers and manufacturers along the supply chain is a lasting and profound piece of this journey toward advancing healthcare outcomes for patients and providers alike.
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