SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio trauma surgeon who has saved lives on battlefields abroad and in San Antonio operating rooms has created a new and improved surgical tool.
Dr. Ramon Cestero was active-duty U.S. Navy for 10 years, deploying seven times -- three times to combat zones.
“During those deployments, it was evident that the equipment we use for surgery downrange has some challenges. We use equipment that’s over 100 years old in design,” he said.
Surgical retractors are the tools that open the abdomen during procedures.
On the battlefield, retractors are small and simple. Cestero said they get the job done but offer the medic poor visibility.
The common retractors used in hospitals worldwide are larger but have to latch onto tables and are not as good for speed.
“When surgeons select surgical retractors, they have to choose either speed or functionality. There are really no retractors that combine both of those. So you’re sacrificing something every time,” Cestero said.
So, he created one.
Cestero is now a trauma surgeon at University Hospital and a professor of Surgery at UT Health San Antonio, where he spent seven years developing the TITAN CSR with an engineer.
“So a surgeon would use this after making an abdominal incision, inserting into the abdomen and then expanding,” Cestero said, holding the titanium tool.
The TITAL CSR retractor is only two pounds, compared to the other retractors used currently in hospital settings, which can be up to 20 pounds.
“It’s genius in its simplicity,” said Dr. Brian Eastridge, chief of University Hospital’s Trauma and Emergency Surgery Division.
“The challenge for surgeons is to stop bleeding as quickly as possible and particularly bleeding, you know, in the chest or the abdomen. We need a retractor that will get us exposure to what we need to fix to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. And that’s the real utility of this retractor,” he said.
Eastridge was an Army surgeon for 31 years, with six combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He knows firsthand what challenges different retractors pose and was thrilled that his team at University Hospital was the first to test out the TITAN CSR.
“To actually put our hands on it and work with it, have it be really useful, and now the potential to get it out there to other surgeons across the country, just really tremendous potential,” Eastridge said.
Surgeons are already testing the retractor at Brooke Army Medial Center, Dell Trauma Center in Austin, and other Florida and New York hospitals.
Cestero even said the longtime ABC show Grey’s Anatomy has started using the TITAN CSR in their most recent episodes.
He hopes it’s a precursor to the tool being used to save the lives of patients worldwide.