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Kidney Donation Is Hot Topic at Annual Urology Meeting in California; Urologists Say Advanced Access Technologies Are Key to Improving Rate of Live Kidney Donation.

Business Editors & Health/Medical Writers

LOS ANGELES--(BW HealthWire)--June 1, 2001

More than 9,000 urologists will gather in Anaheim June 2-7 at the American Urological Association's (AUA) annual meeting, one of the largest gatherings of urologists in the world.

One issue that will garner substantial attention is donor nephrectomy, or kidney donation and transplant surgery, as urologists discuss how new Advanced Access(TM) technology in hand-assisted laparoscopy (HAL) can improve the rate of live kidney donation in the United States.

HAL works by letting doctors reach inside the patient's body through small holes, providing "hands on" contact missing from traditional laparoscopic procedures that rely only on a system of cameras and remotely controlled instruments. The technology was developed by Applied Medical, based near Anaheim in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

"Research shows that kidney transplants are more successful when the transplant comes from a living donor, yet more than half of all kidney transplants today still come from cadavers and less than one-quarter of those who need transplants get them," said David Albala, M.D., Director of Endourology and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago.

"New Advanced Access(TM) technology now reduces risks and speeds recovery for the living donor, and I believe that live kidney donations would dramatically increase if more people knew about the latest technological advancements. We can have a major impact on improving the chances for more people to receive the kidney transplants they desperately need," said Albala.

During the AUA meeting in Anaheim, urologists will participate in a video conference on donor nephrectomy, and Applied Medical will coordinate discussions between urologists on the Advanced Access(TM) technology that makes live donor nephrectomy more appealing. Participating physicians are available for interviews with the media; to arrange interviews, call 800/600-7111 x233.

Applied Medical developed one of the first HAL devices that allowed surgeons to combine the benefits of laparoscopic surgery with those of open surgery.

"Access is the first aspect of any procedure and arguably the most important to the surgeon and the patient. Limited access prevents many surgeons from adopting minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques because access can be time-consuming, difficult, or insufficient. Patients prefer MIS because they are concerned about postoperative pain, scarring and the ability to return swiftly to normal daily activity," said Gary Johnson, vice president and general manager of Applied's General Surgery Division.

"Advanced Access technology makes it easier for the surgeon to combine the precision of open surgery with the patient benefits of MIS, and we're encouraged that Advanced Access will make a dramatic improvement in kidney donation rates," said Johnson.

Traditional laparoscopy requires the surgeon to operate completely outside the patient's body using instruments that are inserted through tiny holes in the patient's abdomen. The surgeon's hands are never inside the patient's body. With Applied's Intromit(R) device, the surgeon can insert her hand into the operative field through the device which is affixed to the patient over the incision. This allows the surgeon to operate laparoscopic instruments with one hand while using the other hand to identify and remove structures, explore the cavity, facilitate dissection, guide laparoscopic instruments, and suture and remove specimens. The Intromit(R) incision is much smaller than a normal open surgery incision.

"Hand-assisted laparoscopy (HAL) is bridging a gap between traditional open surgery and laparoscopy, bringing the best aspects of both techniques together into one," said Johnson. "Applied Medical has tremendously improved hand-assisted technology, providing surgeons with more Advanced Access(TM) and enabling them to do things that were simply not possible before."

The Intromit(R) Advanced Access(TM) technology is especially useful in kidney donor surgery where the surgeon needs to free the organ and remove it without damaging it, something she's not able to do via traditional laparoscopy. The Intromit(R) also reduces incision size and allows for a speedy recovery for the living donor.

The live donor nephrectomy focus at AUA comes just months after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the establishment of an initiative to increase organ donation across the United States. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) said that in 1998 more than 42,000 individuals needed kidney transplants but only about 9,500 kidney transplants occurred -- less than one-quarter of those needed.

According to a scientific study published in the Journal of Urology, hand-assisted laparoscopy significantly reduced the incidence of major complications during kidney removal surgery. The rate of complications while using HAL was only eight percent compared to 38 percent when using standard laparoscopic kidney removal.

Applied Medical is now awaiting FDA clearance to market a second generation advanced access device for laparoscopic surgery. The unique GelPort(TM) will allow the surgeon to simply insert his hand through a gel encased opening and into the patient's body. Set up time is greatly reduced, and no adhesives are required. The GelPort will more readily allow the surgeon access to far more areas of the body than any currently marketed device.

This year about 15,000 surgeries will be performed using HAL but Cox points to a long list of complex open procedures and predicts that Advanced Access(TM) technology like the GelPort(TM) could revolutionize up to one million urological, vascular, gynecological and general surgical procedures annually that are still done via open surgery.

Applied Medical is the world leader in atraumatic technology for urology, laparoscopy, vascular and cardiovascular surgery, and has pioneered Advanced Access(TM) technology for endourology and laparoscopy via the Acucise Catheter, Ureteral Access Sheath, Sureseal Endoscopic Valve and the Applied 7-10 Endopyelotomy Stent. Within its first decade, Applied Medical developed into one of the most prolific innovators in the medical device industry. The company currently holds more than 240 issued or pending patents.
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