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Speedy development of laser system an eye-opener

SHARE Speedy development of laser system an eye-opener

It took slightly more than six months for ZEVEX International Inc. to design and manufacture a state-of-the-art photon laser phacoemulsification system for cataract surgery for Paradigm Medical Industries Inc., a fete officials from both companies consider amazing.

Last September, ZEVEX agreed to develop the system, which would be significantly safer and more effective than anything available on the market for cataract surgery. ZEVEX, 5175 Greenpine Drive, has delivered 20 units to Paradigm.Tom Motter, Paradigm's chief executive officer, said, "ZEVEX had done excellent work for us on small projects. We asked them to develop this system based in large part on that track record."

Motter said the company needed a top-notch product in a short period because the company's reputation was on the line due to commitments to customers.

Dean Constantine, ZEVEX president, said to go from the drawing board to delivery of a market-ready surgical system in as little as six months on a project this complex is almost unheard of.

Phacoemulsification cataract surgery involves making a small incision in a patient's eye through which the needle tip of a phaco surgical handpiece is inserted. Ultrasonic energy causes the needle to move back and forth at 40,000 oscillations per second.

Constantine said the needle's rapid movement breaks up the cataract, which is sucked out through a tube in the center of the handpiece. The use of high ultrasonic energy to power the needle can cause complications.

The photon laser designed by ZEVEX for Paradigm eliminates these concerns, reduces trauma to the eye and makes the surgery safer, faster and more economical, Constantine said.

He said the quick work for Paradigm and other products it has developed could be the reason why ZEVEX has grown an average of 60 percent annually for the last few years. The company was formed 11 years ago, and one of its major clients for sensors was Thiokol Corp., but later Constatine focused on medical products.

David J. McNally, vice president and marketing director, said one of the company's first medical products was a liquid level detection system that detected the level of a liquid in a tank used in open heart surgery.

Their latest product is called Enteralite, an internal feeding system that allows patients with Chron's disease, short bowel syndrome or other problems with the intestines to receive nourishment while still being active.

Weighing slightly more than one pound, the pump fits into a backpack carried by the user, and a tube is attached to the abdomen where a connector has been inserted internally. The pump pumps the solution at prescribed levels and allows the patient to remain active, said McNally.

Phillip L. McStotts, chief financial officer, said ZEVEX is the smallest company in Utah to receive an industrial development bond that will allow the company to move to a 52,000-square-foot facility at 4314 S. 670 West in May.