Physician Invention Cuts Surgery Time

October 7, 2011

Dr. Bharat Shah

GraftOn device

A newly patented device may decrease operating room time on a very common surgical procedure. The placement of skin grafts is commonplace in burn and reconstructive surgery. Until now, there hasn’t been one standard tool that surgeons can use when applying skin grafts. Following last month’s lab tests at Mercy Research there’s good reason to believe GraftOn Skin and Tissue Applicator may one day be in every operating room.

Applying skin grafts can be challenging, largely due to trapped air or fluid bubbles beneath the graft, which can cause the graft to fail. “Currently, our only way of getting fluids out from under the graft is to take a sponge or gauze, roll it and try to squeeze out the fluid from under the graft,” explained Bharat Shah, MD, FACS, a Mercy plastic surgeon and inventor of GraftOn. With the GraftOn instrument, surgeons roll out air or fluid bubbles under the graph and don’t have to keep changing instruments,” he said.

The three components of the GraftOn include a foam applicator, which is essentially a roller, an ergonomically designed handle that is smooth on one side for smoothing the graft’s edges and a grip tool on the other side for fine tuning.

Last onth’s lab tests compared the speed of placing a skin graft using the instruments most doctors use today with R&D’s GraftOn applicator. In both cases, the test was conducted 50 times, resulting in statistically less time to place the graft with the GraftOn device.

The model of product development at Mercy R&D is unique in that physicians bring their ideas for a new product which is then translated by the R&D team into a functional prototype. “I can start out with an idea, but I don’t know how to make something out of that idea. I need the R&D team to help me develop that idea into something that’s real.”

To learn more about GraftOn or R&D’s other projects, visit the R&D division’s website,

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