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No Surgical Sponge Left Behind: RF Surgical Seeks to Lead Market for High-Tech Gauze

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get a consistent readout. “I felt something better had to be done,” Port says.

Port, the medical guy, found his co-founder in William Blair, the engineering guy he needed to pursue something tangible that might work. RF, which has now raised $20 million in capital to date, got some of its early financing from medical device industry veteran Kevin Cosens, Port says.

The company won its FDA approval in 2006 to start selling a surgical sponge with a radio-frequency tag inside. The engineering had to be solid, the tag had to be small, it needed to be compatible with all other electronic devices in the operating room, and could add only minimal cost to a sponge, Port says. One of the key engineering tricks the company pulled off was use of simpler radio-frequency tags, not better-known RFID tags, which have more expensive components that can store data, Port says. So far, RF’s system is used by more than 100 hospitals around the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, and University of San Diego. The company has 32 employees.

The first generation of technology required the wand to be waved over the patient, to pick up radio frequencies that would be emitted by a sponge if it’s there, Port says. A newer version of the technology, being released this week, eliminates the wand, in favor of a gel-pad that’s on the operating room table, so a nurse only has to push a button to perform the scan for lost sponges.

The base equipment is provided … Next Page »

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