Surgical stapling device–tissue interactions: what surgeons need to know to improve patient outcomes
Edward Chekan,1 Richard L Whelan2
1Ethicon Inc., Cincinnati, OH, USA; 2St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, New York, NY, USA
Abstract: The introduction of both new surgical devices and reengineered existing devices leads to modifications in the way traditional tasks are carried out and allows for the development of new surgical techniques. Each new device has benefits and limitations in regards to tissue interactions that, if known, allow for optimal use. However, most surgeons are unaware of these attributes and, therefore, new device introduction creates a “knowledge gap” that is potentially dangerous. The goal of this review is to present a framework for the study of device–tissue interactions and to initiate the process of “filling in” the knowledge gap via the available literature. Surgical staplers, which are continually being developed, are the focus of this piece. The integrity of the staple line, which depends on adequate tissue compression, is the primary factor in creating a stable anastomosis. This review focuses on published studies that evaluated the creation of stable anastomoses in bariatric, thoracic, and colorectal procedures. Understanding how staplers interact with target tissues is key to improving patient outcomes. It is clear from this review that each tissue type presents unique challenges. The thickness of each tissue varies as do the intrinsic biomechanical properties that determine the ideal compressive force and prefiring compression time for each tissue type. The correct staple height will vary depending on these tissue-specific properties and the tissue pathology. These studies reinforce the universal theme that compression, staple height, tissue thickness, tissue compressibility, and tissue type must all be considered by the surgeon prior to choosing a stapler and cartridge. The surgeon's experience, therefore, is a critical factor. Educational programs need to be established to inform and update surgeons on the characteristics of each stapler. It is hoped that the framework presented in this review will facilitate this process.
Keywords: stapler, anastomosis, bariatric, colorectal, thoracic, education
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