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Case Studies

Esophageal Ablation System

In 2000, two physicians approached Stellartech with a clinical need. They wanted to be able to remove esophageal cells in which a pre-cancerous change has occurred. The condition, called Barrett’s esophagus, develops as the result of gastrointestinal reflux. In some people this change leads to esophageal cancer, which is currently one of the fastest growing types of cancer in the U.S., with rates increasing three-fold in the last 30 years.

The lining of the esophagus is very thin, typically measuring less than 700 microns. Destruction of deeper tissue layers can result in stricture formation (narrowing of the esophageal lumen) and difficulty swallowing. Stellartech’s challenge was to design a system capable of precisely ablating the superficial lining while simultaneously preserving underlying tissue.

Stellartech’s engineering team went to work to solve this problem. The end result is a proprietary ablation system comprised of a high power generator that delivers a rapid burst of radiofrequency (RF) energy to an electrode band mounted on a balloon catheter. With this system, RF energy can be delivered circumferentially to several centimeters of esophageal tissue in just a few seconds.

A new company was formed to further develop this product and perform the clinical work necessary to commercialize it. The result is a new outpatient procedure that permits diseased esophageal tissue to be ablated in its earliest stage.

In 2007 Stellartech received a Medical Design Excellence Gold Award for the design of the Esophageal Ablation System.

Cooled RF Energy System for Aesthetic Tissue Remodeling

Several entrepreneurs partnered with Stellartech to develop a method for tightening a patient’s skin and soft tissue in order to create a more youthful appearance. Their goal was a treatment that could be delivered in a physician’s office using minimal anesthesia, allowing the patient to return to work immediately afterward. The challenge was to design a system that could shrink collagen at the proper level to achieve the desired aesthetic effect, but without causing superficial tissue destruction and pain.

Stellartech’s unique solution involved the linking together of a complex set of processes. In our cooled ablation system design the heating properties of high levels of radiofrequency energy are dispersed to deeper tissue areas through an insulated treatment tip that permits capacitive coupling. Throughout the treatment, surface tissue is protected by a cooling cryogen spray, which creates a reverse thermal gradient. The system is powered by a high frequency RF generator with an embedded computer system capable of rapidly processing treatment feedback information. The system contains patented microchip and sensor technology that constantly monitors key treatment parameters such as temperature, treatment application force, tissue contact and other information on the interaction of energy with the tissue and controls the treatment algorithm.

After obtaining regulatory clearances and completing the required clinical studies, the monopolar capacitive RF System was launched in the U.S. The system is now being sold in more than 45 countries around the world.

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