Israeli startup Fidmi Medical has developed a feeding tube that is easier to insert, making the procedure less complicated and saving on hospital costs. It also makes it easier on the patient for what is often an unpleasant procedure.
For those who can’t get enough food or liquids by mouth — such as those who have suffered a stroke or have a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s — feeding tubes are usually inserted through the esophagus via an endoscopic procedure, and then connected to the source of the feed through a small hole in the stomach of the patient. These small tubes, however, are prone to complications — they are sometimes dislodged, causing pain and requiring urgent hospital care and the placement of a new tube. They can also clog and degrade.
“Insertion of a feeding tube is always a difficult adjustment for the patient first and foremost, as well as for the family and caregivers,” said Shahar Millis, CEO of Fidmi Medical. “The name of the game is to minimize complications and the unpleasant experiences related to tube insertion.”
He added that Fidmi’s tubes provide a solution to many of the current problems: sudden device dislodgment, unwanted blockage and frequent visits to the ER for replacement.
The device, which looks like an arrow with a flat plug at its end, is inserted into the body through a standard endoscopic procedure. A rigid-core silicone internal “bumper” keeps the tube in place better than the current soft bumpers, that are removed along with the tube, the company said.
A special tool — like a tiny screwdriver — detaches the tube from the bumper, which then breaks up into five small parts and is eliminated naturally from the body. “That allows us to remove only the tube, so there is no need for anesthesia or endoscopy for removal,” said Millis.
In addition, the structure enables the inner tube to be easily replaced every few days, even by a family member or caregiver, without dismantling the entire tube. This greatly reduces the need for emergency hospital procedures as a result of tube blockage, the company said in a statement.
A half a million children and adults in the United States are dependent on feeding tubes, and that number is expected to increase by eight percent over the next three years, according to The Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation. There are over 300 conditions and diseases that can require tube feeding in children, the foundation said. But for both the patient and the caregiver, use of a feeding tube can be onerous and unpleasant.
Fidmi Medical is part of the Trendlines Group and operates as part of the group’s technology incubator at Misgav.
Fidmi was founded by Dr. Uri Ben-Yishai, a gastroenterologist at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center. He was joined by Millis, a mechanical engineer, who specializes in developing custom products for the digestive system.
The company has raised over $1 million to develop the product, and will be soon submitting it to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval.
A clinical trial is expected to begin at Hadassah as early as next month. The trial is not a prerequisite for FDA clearance, but to get feedback from patients and medical staff, the statement said.