On the Cutting Edge
Quick Start helps Plasma Surgical adapt rocket science for medical science
Employees at Plasma Surgical in Roswell, Ga., make a groundbreaking product used every day in operating rooms. And the technology they employ actually is rocket science.
“What Professor Nikolay Suslov has done is take essentially room-size plasma jet engine technology and miniaturize it to a hand-size piece,” says Mike Dilworth, Plasma Surgical’s vice president of manufacturing. “Nobody in the world has been able to do what Nikolay has done in designing a tool so small — with a diameter of 5mm and less — producing plasma in the temperature range of 10,000 to 30,000 degrees Kelvin.”
Producing the company’s sophisticated PlasmaJet surgical system requires precision and a great deal of manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination. And since Suslov created the product himself, in Sweden, many of the processes are new to the Fulton County workforce, though biomedical devices in general are not.
“Sweden is a very small country, and there are few companies that manufacture medical devices,” says Suslov. “When I wanted to expand the company, I found more than 1,700 medical device companies in Georgia, as well as the supplier companies we needed.”
To transfer the company’s advanced technology from Europe to Georgia, and to find the best Georgians to manufacture the complex devices, the company partnered with Quick Start.
“We’re a very small company, and during startup, everyone’s wearing 15 different hats anyway,” says Connie Lipscomb, Plasma Surgical production support specialist. “It was amazing that I was able to be in Sweden, sending video and pictures to Quick Start here, and receiving immediate feedback.”
With the time difference, Lipscomb said, it was often at off-hours in Georgia when she had to contact Quick Start personnel to ask a question or solve a problem. And no matter the time or day, Quick Start always answered her call. That international collaboration is what helped the company get up and running smoothly.
“At the time, we didn’t even have a building here,” says Lipscomb. “We had nothing. So it was incredible to be able to put together training materials virtually. It was amazing, the creativity Quick Start brought to the process. It made it possible to be able to show people what we were doing through the materials Quick Start created.”
Mike Dilworth agrees. “This is now the sole manufacturing facility for the PlasmaJet handpieces,” he says. “We’ve been a real success story out here, and Quick Start has been a big part of it.”
Plasma is the fourth state of matter, after solid, liquid and gas. It is formed by heating gas until it ionizes, forming a collection of highenergy particles. Unlike gas, plasma can form structures, like filaments and beams.
In plasma surgery, a fine stream of pure plasma is used to cut and coagulate tissue and bone. Since the stream of plasma is electrically neutral, it eliminates the risk of burns and tissue damage that can come with electrosurgery.
The PlasmaJet system creates plasma by concentrating a low flow of argon gas and exciting it with a low voltage created inside the handpiece. The resulting argon plasma is a mixture of high-energy argon atoms, ions and electrons that emerge from the tip of the handpiece in a precise jet stream.
“This device has the potential of revolutionizing surgery without the need for electricity passing through the patient’s body,” says Mike Dilworth, Plasma Surgical’s vice president of manufacturing.