University of Malta

Surgical Suction Device
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Surgical Suction Device

Project Number: KD01PFX

The Invention


Metastases are cancerous tumours that form as a result of a primary tumour.  The lung parenchyma is the second most frequented site for such metastases and studies indicate that upon surgical removal of the metastases, the chances of survival improve, as by removing the first site of metastases this disease could potentially be cured.


There is a gap in the market for a surgical instrument that allows for removal of the metastases whilst allowing for narrower resection margins and thus saving more vital tissue.  The modular suction device opens up the possibility for metasectomies to be available for those patients who would not normally be considered candidates for such a surgery as the metastases can be stabilised and manipulated during surgery. The device works by utilizing a vacuum effect thus contact pressures are not applied onto the metastases. This would help reduce the risk of metastases fracturing during surgery which could potentially result in the spread of the disease.







Surgical equipment currently available on the market does not allow for direct contact with metastases.  This invention can facilitate the surgeon’s ability to achieve desired cutting angles, thereby removing as little healthy tissue as possible. By using this instrument the surgeon would save time and reduce the risk of breakage of metastases.

Although the size of the suction cups can be altered, the suction cups are designed to meet a range of operable tumour sizes.  The average size of a lung cancer tumour is 0.5-3cm and an analysis was conducted to develop the best size and shape of the suction cups to yield the best results.  The device would connect to normal operating theatre vacuum systems and would be attached to existing/standard pipe fittings.


The device was created for directly handling pulmonary metastases during surgery.  However, by altering size of the cup, one could envision the use of such a device for manipulating other tissue types and other scenarios (such as cysts, eyes, other cancer tumours).


Are You a Manufacturer?


There are a number of surgical devices currently available on the market which are used in pulmonary metasectomy.  However, the suction device bridges a gap in the limitations of the current surgical devices.


  • The instrument has multi-organ capabilities and can therefore be marketed towards a broader range of surgical fields.  The modular design also allows for customisation of the instrument

  • The device integrates with current surgical equipment, reducing the number of components required

  • Manufacturing does not require specialist equipment as general purpose tooling would suffice

  • Standard tools may be used to manufacture the threads thus reducing potential quality problems



Are You a Surgeon?


Here’s why the suction device might be of interest to you:


  • The length of the suction tube and angle of the tube allows for flexibility and the device is capable of removing metastases regardless of their position on the lungs

  • Low assembly and disassembly times therefore the instrument could be used effectively in an emergency

  • Ergonomic design - lightweight, comfortable holding catering for different hand sizes

  • The surgical instrument could also potentially perform a secondary function that of cleaning up the surgical area

  • Reduces the need for consumables through the re-use of the suction head

  • Does not emit smoke during surgery

  • Transparent suction head allowing for monitoring of the metastases during surgery

Development Status


The invention has reached prototype stage. A working prototype has been developed using 3D printing techniques for the modular cup sections and is now being tested with surgeons.

Intellectual Property Status


The design was registered in January 2015 with the following European Community Design reference numbers; 001428254-0001 (small suction heads); 001428254-0002 (medium suction heads) and 001428254-0003 (large suction heads).



Commercial Interest


We are looking for potential licencees and collaborators to develop a final product for commercialisation.



Lead Originator & Relevant Publications


Dr. Ing. Philip Farrugia

Mr Aaron Casha

Preca, G. 2013, “Design of a Proof of Concept Surgical Instrument for Removing Metastases”. B.ENG. (Hons) Thesis, University of Malta.

Preca, G., Farrugia, P. & Casha, A. 2014, "A Case Study on the Design of a Modular Surgical Instrument for Removing Metastases using Engineering Design Tools", Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design (E&PDE 2014), eds. E. Bohemia, A. Eger, W. Eggink, A. Kovacevic, B. Parkinson & W. Wits, Twente, Netherlands, 4-5 September 2014. 


Download Summary [PDF]



Interested? Contact Nicola Camilleri or the Knowledge Transfer Office.


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Last Updated: 29 September 2016

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