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Feb 6, 2018 | By Troy Carter

This is why Morzine Medical is leading the field surgery market

With TechLink’s help, Atlanta-based business licenses field surgery enhancement from Army for product development

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Army Pvt. Gearl Girrens (left) and Sgt. Grant Short whisk a soldier away on a stretcher during a unit readiness exercise held at Forward Operating Base Sweeney, Afghanistan in 2012. (Chris McCullough/Army)

Reducing casualties in the war on terrorism has meant pushing Army surgeons farther forward on the battlefield.

Operating in small teams of 20 called forward surgical teams (FST), they work round-the-clock in hasty hospitals with limited equipment.

“It’s pretty much all hands on deck. We could get called in at 3:00 in the morning and not leave until noon the next day working on the same patient,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Ashley Richards, an operating room specialist, in Afghanistan in 2011. “Some cases are worse than others. (With some) gunshot wounds … it gets really bad really quick.”

Thanks to Army inventors and Morzine Medical, field hospitals like the one Richards worked in will soon have better equipment for saving lives.

Named after its creators, doctors Capt. Maxwell Sirkin and Col. Jason Hiles, the Sirkin-Hiles Rail (SHRAIL*) connects essential surgical equipment to litters and stretchers, advancing the capabilities of forward surgical teams, military or humanitarian.

A soldier demonstrates a prototype of the Army-developed SHRAIL litter system
A soldier demonstrates a prototype of the Army-developed SHRAIL, which allows essential surgical tools to attach to a stretcher or litter, enabling advanced field medicine. (Army photo)

“I wanted to help the far-forward surgeon who is often hours to days from a formal operating room or hospital,” said Sirkin in an Army announcement. “These surgeons will have critically ill patients that they may need to move frequently. I wanted to come up with a device that can help in this setting.”

The simple, lightweight rail quickly turns a standard litter into an operating table, with solid attachment points for IV poles, arm boards, retractors, and other surgical aids.

The Atlanta-based Morzine Medical licensed the SHRAIL patent from the Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command in December, a mandatory step in its commercial production.

“This agreement provides the framework necessary to take this revolutionary product and make it a commercial-off-the-shelf item. As a result, an important life-saving device will be readily available to all military units with the potential to save lives on the battlefield,” said Mark Brown, head of the Army’s Medical Prototype Development Laboratory.

Mark Trimble is the managing director of Morzine Medical.

Morzine Medical has been successful in the field medicine market, namely through U.S. military sales of its Doak M4 Portable Surgical Table.

“We excel at producing medical products that meet and exceed the needs of the most demanding customers. The SHRAIL is a natural fit in our portfolio of products that will offer users another tool to provide care in environments where traditional medical facilities are not available,” Mark Trimble, Morzine’s managing director told TechLink.

TechLink, the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary, helped facilitate the patent licensing process.

“This is an excellent partnership for the Army, but it’s one that will ultimately benefit all of our armed forces,” said Quinton King, TechLink’s senior technology manager involved in the deal. “It’s truly a life-saving improvement in field medicine coming from a public-private partnership.”

* The U.S. Army claims trademark status for “SHRAIL.” Troy Carter can be reached at troy.carter@montana.edu or 406-994-7798.

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