News Feature | February 17, 2017

Medtronic Unveils Signia Stapler For Minimally-Invasive Surgery

By Jof Enriquez
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


Medtronic's newest addition to its growing minimally-invasive surgery portfolio is the single-handed, powered Signia surgical stapler, which has the ability to sense human tissue thickness and automatically adjust stapling speed to achieve consistent staple lines.

The Signia device achieves this through what Medtronic calls Adaptive Firing technology, which detects the variability of tissue and provides real-time feedback in the palm of the surgeon's hand.

For example, tissue is known to be thinnest at the top of the stomach and thickest at the bottom of the stomach near the small intestine. Signia's sensors can detect more accurately the thickness of the tissue being worked.

“When you clamp down on a tissue plain, in many cases you are guesstimating the thickness of that tissue,” Chris Barry, Medtronic's president of surgical innovations, told WSJ/Commodities Report at a medical conference in Boston last year. When the surgeon grasps the tissue, an LED display window on the Signia device provides real-time audible and visual feedback, and “tells the surgeon whether the tissue is within the range” of the staples. Otherwise, the staples can be changed.

The Signia device is designed for one-handed operation, and is completely powered.

"In my experience to date, I believe the articulation, rotation and firing of the Signia system provides an important new option in the performance of minimally invasive surgical procedures," said Dana Portenier, M.D., FACS, co-program director, Duke Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Fellowship division chief, andDuke Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery Duke Regional Hospital chairman of surgery, in a news release. "Its ability to provide the surgeon with helpful data and real-time response has the potential to contribute to more informed surgical decision-making."

Signia is one of 15 new products that Medtronic's Minimally Invasive Therapies Group (MITG, formerly Covidien) is launching during the second half of the company's fiscal year, which ends in April. Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak said in November that the roll-out will help MITG grow in the mid-single digits for said period.

Initially, the company will introduce the Signia System in the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, followed by additional markets worldwide during fiscal year 2018, reports Reuters.

"The Signia system is a first-of-its-kind stapling system and represents our commitment to pioneering intelligence-based minimally invasive surgical solutions," said Chris Barry, senior VP and president of the Surgical Innovations business, which is part of MITG. "Ultimately, healthcare should help patients get better, faster with less pain; MIS delivers on that commitment."