Endolumik is thrilled to be exhibiting at ASMBS 2024 this year! Check out our ePoster from 2023’s ASMBS Annual Meeting as a sneak peak for this year.

Congratulations to Nova Szoka MD, FACS, FASMBS, co-founder of Endolumik, along with David Renton and Santiago Horgan, for the release of The SAGES Manual of Fluorescence-Guided Surgery! This textbook offers an in-depth and state-of-the-art perspective on FGS across various surgical disciplines, written by specialists who excel in utilizing FGS in their respective surgical areas. We are very proud to be founded by an innovative and respected thought leader like Nova, and to be on the cutting edge of this new generation of surgical tools! Check out the textbook linked below.


San Juan Regional Medical Center Introduces Endolumik’s Novel Fluorescent Device to New Mexico

Farmington, NM, November 27, 2023 –(PR.com)– Endolumik, an innovator in minimally-invasive surgical devices, announced another breakthrough procedure. Dr. Philip Ernest and Dr. James Boyd, General and Bariatric Surgeons at San Juan Regional Medical Center, performed the first ever fluorescent guided bariatric surgery in the state of New Mexico, using the company’s new Endolumik Gastric Calibration Tube.

Endolumik’s innovative surgical tool recently received 510(k) authorization as the first device ever through the FDA’s Safer TEchnology Program, or STEP. According to the FDA, the STEP program is for devices that are “reasonably expected to significantly improve the safety of currently available treatments.” The NIR fluorescence of the Endolumik device is designed to help surgeons avoid adverse events that can be caused by poor visualization. This will help make it the safest calibration tube available.

“At San Juan Regional Medical Center, our commitment is to seamlessly integrate cutting-edge technology with surgical procedures to enhance safety and overall outcomes. Notably, Endolumik stands out as the sole FDA-approved sizing instrument for bariatric surgery recognized as a safety device,” said Dr. Ernest, Director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Institute at San Juan Regional Medical Center. “Incorporating Endolumik into our robotic bariatric surgeries represents a significant advancement in patient safety, contributing to excellent results. We are enthusiastic about adopting a product that aligns with the overarching goals of our surgical program. This integration of advanced technology underscores our dedication to providing the highest standard of care to our patients.”

The device was invented by another bariatric surgeon, Dr. Nova Szoka, FACS, FASMBS, specifically to improve safety and performance in these procedures. The company is excited to be using the technology to help bring safe procedures to populations that often don’t have access to quality metabolic care. Endolumik CEO Mara McFadden notes, “We are proud to be partnering with innovators like San Juan Regional Medical Center to help give access to the best technology to as many patients as possible.”

San Juan Regional Medical Center recently launched its Metabolic and Bariatric Institute to help bring much needed bariatric surgery services to a traditionally underserved patient population. The Institute accepted its first patients this summer providing both surgical and medical options to help patients achieve their weight loss goals and improve their overall health and wellness.

Endolumik is a medical device company developing novel tools for laparoscopic surgery. Its patented fluorescence guided surgical tools are designed to help make minimally invasive surgical procedures safer and more effective. Learn more at www.endolumik.com.

San Juan Regional Medical Center is a non-profit, acute care hospital and Level III Trauma Center with 198 licensed beds. Better is our mission, improving lives through personalized health and care. As a sole community provider in San Juan County, we deliver a remarkable range of highly personalized and specialized healthcare services to the people of the entire Four Corners region. San Juan Regional Medical Center is accredited by DNV. More information is available at sanjuanregional.com.

Omaha, NE, June 09, 2023 –(PR.com)– Endolumik, an innovator in minimally-invasive surgical devices, today announced that its fluorescence guided Gastric Calibration Tube has begun commercial sales, starting with the prestigious Nebraska Medicine Bariatrics Center.

Endolumik’s novel surgical tool has been used extensively in clinical trials and recently received 510(k) authorization as the first device ever through the FDA’s Safer TEchnology Program, or STEP. According to the FDA, the STEP program is for devices that are “reasonably expected to significantly improve the safety of currently available treatments.” The NIR fluorescence of the Endolumik device is designed to help surgeons avoid adverse events that can be caused by poor visualization. This procedure with UNMC will mark the first introduction of the device for public use.

Dr. Corrigan McBride, DABOM, FACS, FASMBS, and the Chief of General Surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery and Bariatrics at UNMC, was eager to be a leader with the device. She is not only the Director of the MBSAQIP accredited Bariatrics Center, but is also a leading researcher in laparoscopic metabolic surgery. “Innovation is one of the core values of Nebraska Medicine and UNMC, so when I saw the Enolumik I was excited about the opportunity to improve patient safety through a new surgical device”

The Endolumik Gastric Calibration Tube uses near infrared (NIR) light to allow surgeons to more clearly visualize surgical tools inside the stomach. The inventor of the device, Dr. Nova Szoka, FACS, FASMBS notes, “It’s our goal to provide surgeons with additional visual cues to help them improve their performance, and standardize surgical outcomes for patients.”

The event also marks an interesting moment of progress in the traditionally male-dominated surgical field. Endolumik is a women-owned, women-led company, founded on the invention of a female surgeon. When Dr. McBride expressed her interest to be one of the first users, both parties thought it seemed a fitting opportunity to have a woman surgeon lead the way for this technological innovation. Dr. David W. Mercer, the Chair of Surgery at UNMC, “Dr. McBride is a leader in Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery. She is always working to improve safety and outcomes for her patients.”

Endolumik is launching the device with a select number of leading hospitals and surgery centers throughout the spring. “We are looking for partners who not only appreciate the technological value of this device for patients, but are excited to be ushering in a new era of higher performing digital surgical tools,” said Endolumik CEO Mara McFadden.

By Andrea Park Mar 10, 2023 01:29pm 


Half a decade after first proposing the program—which aims to speed up the regulatory review process for new devices that could potentially improve the safety of currently available treatments and diagnostics—the agency has handed out its first clearance for a STeP-selected device, it announced this week.

That milestone came courtesy of Endolumik’s fluorescence-guided gastric calibration tube, which aims to improve accuracy in gastric and bariatric surgical procedures.

“Our mission is to provide surgeons with additional visual cues to succeed in the operating room,” Nova Szoka, M.D., co-founder and chief medical officer of Endolumik, said in a company release Friday. “We believe the enhanced visualization that our device provides will help surgeons standardize surgical outcomes for sleeve gastrectomy, and this will translate to improved patient outcomes.”

Esophagogastric calibration systems, commonly referred to as bougies, are used to help guide weight-loss and other gastric surgeries. During a sleeve gastrectomy, for example, a bougie is inserted into the stomach, where it provides measurements and a line along which surgeons can staple off a section of the stomach for removal.

However, current versions of the device require doctors and robotic surgery systems to make that separation somewhat blindly, moving by feel along the line of the bougie. If done improperly, the resulting gastric sleeve may be too large, minimizing the expected effects of the weight-loss surgery, or too small—which can result in leaks or full ruptures along the staple line. That approach may also lead to the bougie itself being caught in the staples.

Endolumik’s device, meanwhile, is meant to cut down on those complications, thanks to the green glow of its fluorescent tube. The bougie emits near-infrared (NIR) light that can be detected through the thick stomach tissue by any endoscopic camera, surgical robot or other laparoscopic tool that’s able to pick up on NIR-spectrum light, giving surgical teams a clearer view of the placement of the tube.

Additionally, Endolumik’s bougie is equipped with a suction tool to help drain gastric fluids as needed—a task typically performed with a separate tool that’s swapped in after the bougie is removed.

With FDA clearance secured, Endolumik said it will begin distributing its gastric calibration tube to “select hospitals and health systems” in the U.S. this spring. The company also plans to develop a wide range of other fluorescence-guided tools to improve visualization throughout surgical procedures, CEO Mara McFadden said in the release.

After first outlining plans for the Safer Technologies Program in early 2018, the FDA put together official guidance for the program, which was enacted in 2021. STeP was introduced just as the agency was putting the final touches on a sister program offering breakthrough-device designations. Both programs are designed to prioritize the review of novel devices and software programs that are poised to significantly improve current methods for diagnosing and treating diseases.

But, while the breakthrough-device designation is reserved for technologies indicated for life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating conditions—many of which are underserved by current medtech offerings—those tapped by STeP target relatively less serious conditions that are nonetheless in need of safer diagnostic and therapeutic options.


Endolumik’s story started a few years ago as the FDA sounded the alarm over the risks of internal surgical staplers.

In 2019, the federal agency warned healthcare providers that it had received more than 41,000 medical device reports (MDRs) related to surgical staplers and staples for internal use from 2011 to 2018. Those MDRs tallied more than 32,000 malfunctions, at least 9,000 serious injuries and 366 deaths.

Two years later, the FDA increased the risk level associated with the staplers, reclassifying the devices from Class I to Class II and subjecting them to premarket review and special controls.

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Nova Szoka had already been working on a device that could prevent some of those injuries. She envisioned an illuminated gastric calibration tube that would shine near-infrared light through stomach tissue and fat. This camera-visible fluorescence would make it easier to see the tube inside a patient, lessening the risk of a surgeon perforating the stomach or stapling the tube to the stomach during bariatric procedures.

In 2020, Szoka founded Endolumik with Mara McFadden, now CEO of the Morgantown, West Virginia-based device developer. In 2022, they submitted their device to the FDA under the new Safer Technologies Program (STeP) and this year won the agency’s first STeP authorization.

“Safety was always the most important thing,” Szoka told Medical Design & Outsourcing.

FDA’s STeP initiative

As Szoka and McFadden got started at Endolumik in 2020, the FDA prepared to launch the STeP initiative. The FDA based STeP on the Breakthrough Devices Program, which offers streamlined reviews for devices designed to treat life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions.
STeP also offers accelerated review times, but for devices that treat or diagnose less serious diseases or conditions than the breakthrough program. The FDA’s goal for both programs is to get safer, better devices to patients faster than the agency’s traditional pathways alone.

“Advancements in medical devices that are ineligible for the Breakthrough Devices Program but offer a significant safety advantage in treating and/or diagnosing less serious diseases or conditions can also provide an important public health benefit,” the FDA said when launching STeP in 2021. “… Efforts to improve safety are directly related to improving overall clinical benefits and may also help patients experience fewer serious adverse events.”

Medical device developers can ask to join the voluntary program through a Q-Submission. Then, they’ll work with the FDA to chart the best path to marketing authorization, whether that be premarket approval, de novo or 510(k).

The FDA accepted 14 STeP requests out of 30 applications last year, according to the Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s annual report.

Taking the big STeP

Endolumik’s founders were sure they should take the 510(k) pathway, and in a Q-Submission meeting with the FDA in 2022, both sides decided the device was a good fit for STeP.

“We found them to be really responsive in terms of timely, interactive review,” McFadden said in an interview. “Sometimes you hear horror stories of submissions just sitting for the full 90 days before you hear much of anything, which was not our experience. They got back to us pretty quickly, and we had the opportunity to interactively go back and forth.”

Medical device developers should clearly understand STeP’s eligibility requirements and be prepared to discuss in depth how their device improves safety, McFadden said.

“It’s non-trivial to demonstrate that you are safer,” she said. “You have to show at least one of four different factors. You can either reduce the occurrence of a known adverse event, reduce the occurrence of a known failure mode, reduce the occurrence of a known user hazard or user error, or improve the safety of another device. You really have to do your homework and be readyto speak in depth in terms of how you’re going to have an impact on safety.”

McFadden recommended getting help from a regulatory consultant for the STeP request and 510(k) submission. Endolumik used Nilo Medical Consulting Group, led by former FDA reviewer Michael Nilo.

“The process for novel Class II medical devices is not always as straightforward as it may seem with the 510(k) program,” Nilo said. “FDA does a great job of setting up programs for innovative, safer devices that can help developers get better access to the review teams and encourage collaboration. I’d advise developers to look into all the programs and give it a shot. They are free to apply to, and the worst outcome is an introduction to the review team that you’ll be working with.”

Creating a tube with ‘Goldilocks-perfect’ balance

Endolumik’s contract manufacturer, Virtec Medical, was indispensable, McFadden said. The biggest challenge in designing the device was balancing flexibility and rigidity.

Too stiff, and the device couldn’t safely navigate through the throat and might punch a hole through the esophagus or stomach. Too soft, and the device would “buckle like a spaghetti noodle” before reaching the stomach, McFadden said.

The trial-and-error process started with the first 3D printed prototypes in pig and cadaver testing.

“Holding the balance of the functional dimensions we needed in terms of the outer diameter and the size of the electrical lumen and getting the cross-section correct to get the mechanical properties we wanted — buckling and kink resistance and that sort of thing — took more iteration than I would’ve guessed from the first go,” McFadden said. “That was one of our biggest unanticipated challenges.”

The tube is made of a PVC-like material, with one lumen for the near-infrared LEDs and another to provide suction so surgeons can remove stomach juices as needed. To determine the right material and dimensions, the team went beyond durometer testing of existing gastric tubesto find a “Goldilocks-perfect” balance.

“Our engineering team really broke down different characteristics of this device: kink pressure, buckle pressure, twisting pressure — basically quantifying all those things and then dialing it in,” she said.

At the final cadaver lab, the team invited some surgical residents to give it a try.

“Once I was able to see some trainees — who had never used a device before — safely introduce it, that’s the point where I felt we were ready to jump to a human-grade device in a clinical trial.”

Endolumik’s clinical trial has treated 22 patients so far without any adverse results, Szoka said.

What’s next for Endolumik

Endolumik’s florescent gastric tube is a single-use device. One goal for future improvements is to design for sustainability, including improved recyclability.

And while McFadden declined to go into detail about other possibilities for the company, she referenced the growing number of near-infrared cameras in operating rooms that could give surgeons better visibility with Endolumik devices of the future.

“It’s really prompted us to start thinking long and hard about where else in the world of minimally invasive surgery are there hazards created by not having a great line of sight to a tool,” McFadden said. “We definitely have one other product in the R&D pipeline that we’re really excited about, that we think is solving an equal, if not greater, pain point in the anatomy.”

“We think it’s the beginning of adigital surgical tool revolution that we’re being able to exploit the tools that are in the OR today, the towers that are in the OR today, to give surgeons advanced visuals,” she continued. “And we’re really excited to be part of what’s next as even more digital surgical tools come on the market, and to see what the next generation of cameras can do.”