Student Team Wins Award at Competition for Brain Surgery Innovation

Published in Insight - Mar/April 2019 Insight

Johns Hopkins biomedical engineering students won a silver award from the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C., for Radiex, a brain retractor that aims to reduce the likelihood of injury during surgery. Brain retractors — the devices used to pull back cortical tissue — cause injury in about 9 percent of neurosurgical operations, often due to a design that is inflexible or exerts too much pressure.

Radiex, by contrast, has a rounded design, meaning radial pressure is distributed. Its small point of entry allows for a minimally invasive operation, and the point of insertion can be adjusted and expanded mid-procedure.

To develop Radiex, the team consulted with Alan Cohen, a Johns Hopkins professor of neurosurgery, who pushed for the minimally invasive design because of his own experiences in the operating room. They also observed neurosurgeries and were given the opportunity to test their prototype on a cadaver.

The design is the product of more than a year of brainstorming, prototyping, testing and retesting.

“We call it the spiral model. [We] make the prototype, [we] test it ourselves, we give it to the surgeons, we get their feedback,” said sophomore team member Jody Mou, who estimated the team has made about 20 to 30 prototypes so far.

Mou represented Team CortiTech at the competition in November 2018, along with senior Linh Tran and sophomore Kevin Tu. Other team members include senior Jack Ye and junior Sun Jay Yoo. Callie Deng, Rohith Bhethanabotla and Muna Igboko also contributed to the project but have since graduated or left the team.

Team members say they would like to eventually get Radiex manufactured and hope to apply for FDA approval by the end of this year.

Read the full story on The Johns Hopkins University’s Hub: Undergraduate team developed Radiex device to hold back cortical tissue during brain surgery.