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Birtcher Medical Gets OK on Device to Stop Bleeding

September 05, 1991|SONNI EFRON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — Birtcher Medical Systems Inc. announced Wednesday that it has received FDA approval to market a device known as the argon beam coagulator to stop bleeding during laparoscopic procedures, a less invasive form of surgery.

Birtcher has been marketing an argon beam generator, which can cut tissue and coagulate blood, since 1988 but only for use in traditional or "open" surgery, said Dan Whelan, the company's chief financial officer.

With this approval, the company will be able to market its argon beam probe for use in laparoscopic surgery, in which a small incision is made in the abdomen, probes are inserted and surgeons view their work through a video camera. The argon beam coagulator (ABC) stops a patient's bleeding by spraying an electric current at tissue through a precise stream of inert argon gas. It is expected to be used in laparoscopic surgery on the gallbladder and other abdominal organs, as well as in gynecological procedures.

"It stops the bleeding quicker, and it has less tissue damage when it coagulates," compared with lasers or other means of coagulation, Whelan said. Furthermore, he said, "when it coagulates, it doesn't generate any smoke so it doesn't cloud the camera, whereas other methods of coagulation do."

Whelan would not disclose sales projections for the device. However, Birtcher stock, which is traded over the counter, rose $1.75 on the news to close at $16.75.

Birtcher reported a 70% increase in revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30, earning $1.55 million on revenues of $30.98 million.

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