Year/Course: 2022-2023
Project type: Medical

Inventor: Mr. Amit Agrawal, Consultant Oncoplastic and Reconstructive Breast Surgeon, Cambridge University Hospitals

During breast surgery, the skin needs to be retracted for a period of time and then put back in place. Traditionally this is done either with a metal and plastic retractor or with the surgeon’s own fingers, but this can be very tiring for the surgeon’s hands.

Based on his own experiences and an online small survey, the inventor believes that better results are obtained when the skin is retracted by the softer fingers rather than by the artificial retractor, meaning that the skin retains better vascularity and suffers less damage or necrosis.

He has therefore developed a prototype Splayer device (that has been tested in human tissue observed by human factors engineers) to support a surgeon’s fingers in a good position for retracting a patient’s skin, so that the surgeon can use their hands for longer rather than reverting to the retractor.

The question for the i-Team is to investigate the route to market adoption for such a device. How widespread are ergonomic issues for surgeons that could be ameliorated by the Splayer? What types of surgeries could benefit from the Splayer in this way? How willing are surgeons to try it? And what would need to be demonstrated before the NHS was willing to procure a product of this type?

By interviewing surgeons, healthcare procurement and other relevant contacts, the i-Team will help the inventor find the best way forward for further developing this product, and support his applications for relevant prototype and trial funding.