SuturTek Inc. Seeks $10 Million Slice Of Venture Capital Heaven

The notion of speeding up major surgical procedures may seem inherently dangerous, but North Chelmsford, Mass.-based SuturTek Inc. is testing a timesaving device designed to actually reduce operating room injuries… to medical personnel.

According to a 1999 study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health, each year approximately 800,000 healthcare workers suffer so-called “sharps injuries.” While inadvertent syringe sticks cause the majority of these injuries, a significant percentage also occurs when surgeons or nurses mishandle the large suturing needles used to complete major fascia operations. Fascia is a thin layer of muscular, fibrous tissue beneath the skin and a layer of fat.

The patented SuturTek product, named FastClose, encloses the needles in a casing that not only prevents needle sticks, but also accelerates the suturing process by placing the split fascia tissue within a gap in the device while the health-care worker simply turns the needle by squeezing a handle.

The tool could be used, for example, to suture the wound on a woman’s abdomen after she has birthed a child through a Cesarean section delivery.

“It basically mimics what a surgeon already does, and it works for both left-handed and right-handed surgeons,” said Gerald Brecher, president of SuturTek. “From what we’ve seen, the learning curve seems to be about 11 seconds and it can cut the suturing time by up to 50 percent.”

In order to begin marketing the technology to hospitals, however, SuturTek is looking for between $7 million to $10 million in a second round of venture capital financing. The company closed a Series A deal with Tyco Ventures earlier this year, but an investor familiar with the situation said follow-on funding from Tyco is far from guaranteed.

“Ever since merging with [CIT Group], Tyco doesn’t seem very interested in health-care investing,” said the source.

Indeed, SuturTek recently lost its initial Tyco board member when Managing Director Mark Maciejewski left Tyco to pursue more entrepreneurial interests. Following Maciejewski’s departure, Tyco Ventures President Richard Kashnow joined the SuturTek board.

Neither Maciejewski nor Kashnow returned calls seeking comment on this story.

Dan Primack can be contacted at: