Q&A: Taking Retractors To The Next Level
Joshua Aferzon got his start in the medical industry at a very young age. He was just 16 when he developed his first patent. Aferzon then researching medical devices during his time as a biomedical engineering major at the University of Connecticut. Before even finishing school in 2011, he launched Orthozon Technologies and quickly released his first product, the Lumiere Retractor System.
The new medical device recently won an award as one of the Top Ten Best New Technology advancements for the spine by Orthopedics This Week. The annual award, now in its fifth year, recognizes inventors, engineering teams, surgeons, and companies for creating the most innovative, enduring, and practical products in 2013 to treat back pain.
Lumiere uses a powerful built-in fiber optic lighting, translucent retractor blades, and full medial access to give surgeons an expandable field of view and greater comfort and flexibility when performing micro endoscopic surgery. The technology received FDA approval in March 2013.
Aferzon recently spoke with Surgical Products about his company and its signature product.
SP: How did your company, Orthozon Technologies, come about?
Aferzon: Orthozon Technologies was actually a dorm room project at first. This was something I started up while looking to find a new way to get into the medical industry. I was a biomedical engineer, and so I had a few ideas for products and had done a lot of medical research. So I decided to start off with a simple device and just had that traditional, entrepreneur- style startup in my dorm room. The product which I had first thought was just a cool idea slowly turned into a wonderful concept. That’s when we chose to release our first device, which is the Lumiere retractor.
SP: What is some of the feedback you’ve heard on the Lumiere Retractor System?
Aferzon: This retractor is the ultimate answer for physicians looking for comfort, flexibility, and control when they are performing minimally-invasive surgery. We decided to take all of the important features that current retractor technologies are missing and implement them into one slick system. This includes built-in fiber-optic lighting, the fact that it is ultra-portable, and we have a small pen light that is attached so you can have everything at the tip of your fingers. Moreover, we have an expanded field of view, we have full rotatable blades, etc. So it gives surgeons the maximum amount of access and visibility. This, I think, is the ultimate tool for minimally-invasive surgery.
All in all, we’re offering a system that offers you flexibility and control, and we also offer a system that is convenient from a cost perspective and also an efficiency perspective. That’s why I like to think of this as the all-in-one.
All of our patients have been leaving the hospital or surgicenter, if we’re going to be doing an outpatient, in four hours or less. And the surgeries are taking an average of about 30-45 minutes. We’re performing rapid procedures and the surgeons are ecstatic with it. I think one of the best pieces of feedback we’re getting is actually on the light source. They’re saying you can see every piece of anatomy, every part of the procedure, and they are elegantly placed, so it doesn’t really block the field of view.
SP: How difficult is to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, with regards to releasing products for the healthcare industry these days?
Aferzon: The whole landscape is shifting. I think the primary aspect of new laws that are being passedand the way hospitals and surgeons are approaching surgery is cost savings. Cost-effectiveness and cost savings. We need to find a way to offer the same innovative devices that we were doing before, but at a better price. We set out to do just that. We set out to have products that are simple, sophisticated, effective, and can offer cost efficiency for the hospitals using it. I think those are going to be the biggest changes.
SP: Has the product and the response to the product met your expectations?
Aferzon: It has exceeded what I expected it would do. We started off this company with a very unique vision. To see it come to fruition is wonderful.
For more information about Orthozon Technologies or the Lumiere Retractor System, visit www.orthozontechnologies.com