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Local Doctor’s Invention Gives Rise to Sanford Vascular Innovations

Nov 29, 2016 11:45AM ● By MED Magazine
In 2011, Patrick Kelly, MD, was just another vascular surgeon with a problem - how to repair a thoracoabdominal aneurysm and reduce the 25% mortality risk associated with the open procedure. Because of the marked differences in patient anatomy, there was no one-size-fits-all stent graft available for this kind of repair.

By 2012, Dr. Kelly, who started his career as a structural engineer, had invented a solution. That solution has now become the Medtronic Valiant TAAA Stent Graft System which allows for minimally invasive repair of these aneurysms, independent of anatomy. It has been FDA approved for a single-center clinical trial.

“As that project evolved and with the success of that, I realized that I’ve got solutions for other problems,” says Dr. Kelly. “So I started working on some other ideas and we filed patents for those and, before I knew it, we had a small group of solutions.”

It was not long before Dr. Kelly realized that he needed help to manage this growing portfolio of vascular solutions and Sanford Vascular Innovations was formed.

“We hired a biomechanical engineer to help with prototyping and computer modeling. Then we
  needed help with the regulatory arm of this, so we hired someone to begin putting that in place,” says Dr. Kelly, who now has a portfolio of a dozen patent applications and more ideas brewing. “That becomes quite a handful of patents to manage and maintain and before long you realize you had better have a budget.”

SVI now includes engineers, chemists and other professionals and draws expertise from area 
 universities. Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt have already joined Sanford as test locations for the TAAA device trial. In the meantime, Dr. Kelly is developing and testing other new devices such as a Unitary Manifold Stent Graft System, a graft system designed to address pararenal and  paravisceral aortic aneurysms, and Type IV thoracoabdominal aneurysms.

“If we can keep people ambulatory and independent, we can significantly reduce the cost of medicine,” says Dr. Kelly.

Kelly estimates that he still spends as much as 90 percent of his time practicing medicine, a situation made possible by the behind-the-scenes work of the SVI team.

“SVI is essentially an incubator for early innovation in vascular care that requires a huge amount of effort from lots of different people at centers both locally and nationally to become reality,” says Dr. Kelly. “Pat Kelly couldn’t possibly run this steam engine. I’m just the guy who lit the first match.”