Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Madera Community Hospital is now using a piece of operating equipment developed in part by one of its surgeons.
The device — marketed as the Eikon and Eikon LT retractor — was donated by its developer, Invuity, Inc., a medical technology company. The retractor was created for use in hidden scar surgeries in breast cancer patients. Dr. Stephen DeSantis, a surgeon at Madera Community, was one of its designers.
“It’s bad enough having cancer, and a lot of people have to have chemotherapy,” Dr. DeSantis said. “And if you don’t have to have a scar that’s always going to be a reminder — this is one shot where I get to help more than one person at a time.”
A retractor is a surgical device used to pull back the points of incision during an operation. This allows the surgeon to better access the area being treated. In the case of the Eikon, this would either be the inframammary fold where the breast meets with the chest, or in the axilla breast tissue, where the scar from breast cancer surgery can be hidden from view. This can also allow the surgeon to spare the patient’s breast and nipple.
“You’re always going to have a scar,” Dr. DeSantis said. “The idea is to put the scar somewhere where the patient isn’t going to have a scar on her breast where it shows.”
Sketches for the retractor were first done by Dr. DeSantis while on-call in Mission Viejo in 2014. The light for the device was designed by his friend, Alex Kayser, a Ukrainian immigrant and hockey friend of Dr. DeSantis.
Traditionally, lights on retractors will use an intense optical fiber source. During lengthy surgeries, these lights can heat up the tissues of a patient, causing damage. They can even ignite surgical drapes. The Eikon’s light, however, uses a diffuser. This enables extended use with the light remaining cold.
The blades and light from the retractor were then married to a handle designed by Doug Reimer.
Despite the innovations of the Eikon, however, Dr. DeSantis stated that the hidden scar surgery is not always an option.
“You never want to compromise a cure for aesthetics,” he said.