Gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) are feeding tubes that are placed surgically through the abdomen directly into the stomach, and are life sustaining for millions of patients for medications and nutrition. Fortunately many patients’ health conditions improve and they no longer require their g-tube. Standard practice is to simply remove the tube in the doctor’s office, and watchful waiting for the site to heal shut, typically 3 to 6 weeks. However, just like a pierced earring site that never completely closes, up to 40% of these patients will have a hole into the stomach that never completely closes. This results in leakage of stomach contents and acid, and the resultant skin breakdown and malnutrition. These patients ultimately require surgical closure of the site, after weeks of failure, patient suffering, and with the associated risks and expense of anesthesia.

As a practicing pediatric surgeon, Dr. Jeff Halter has taken care of many pediatric patients following what should be a routine removal of their g-tubes. However, after weeks of leakage, patient suffering, and parent frustration, they are then faced with surgery. Knowing that there must be a better “standard of care” was the inspiration for this device. Dr. Halter has invented an implantable clip that can be inserted through the g-tube site at the time of tube removal in the office without anesthesia. It will chemically denude the lining of the tract to promote closure and healing, and close the stomach from the inside. This invention can turn an operating room procedure into an office based procedure.

Next steps – Through collaboration with the Engineering Department at The University of Southern Maine, and Looma Design, a Life Science Development Firm in Saco, Maine, Dr. Halter is developing a scaled first-generation prototype with the shape memory alloy Nitinol to assess for performance and feasibility.

Check out the Halter Clip on the MaineHealth Innovation Intellectual Property Portfolio for more information.

TEAM

Jeffrey Halter, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, Maine Medical Center

COLLABORATORS

Looma Design, Life Science Development Firm, Saco, ME

University of Southern Maine, Department of Engineering, Portland, ME