SX-One MicroKnife Makes Carpal Tunnel Release a Minimally Invasive Procedure: Interview with CEO Dr. Darryl Barnes
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a fairly common diagnosis in the United States, affecting approximately three to six percent of adults. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling along the thumb, index, and middle fingers. For severe or refractory cases, the best treatment is surgery. However, because open surgery requires anesthesia and many weeks of downtime, most of the patients who are recommended for surgery do not receive it. That’s where Sonex Health comes in.
The company’s SX-One MicroKnife and ultrasound-guidance are used to perform the carpal tunnel release. Using this minimally-invasive approach allows the procedure to be performed in an office setting through a single 4-5 mm incision. For patients, that results in faster recovery time and less scarring.
“It’s pretty simple and elegant,” says Dr. Darryl Barnes, Co-Founder and CEO of Sonex Health. The company’s SX-One MicroKnife is used to transect the transverse carpal ligament and release pressure on the median nerve. The device is designed to be minimally-invasive and provide the physician with more control. “Our physicians say it makes them more confident, because of the integrated safety features, allowing for a very safe and effective procedure.”
12 million Americans suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and half are recommended for surgery, says Barnes, but only 650,000 actual surgeries are performed each year. And there are three main reasons for the discrepancy: patients are intimidated by the traditional surgery, cannot afford the recovery time, or have other economic reasons.
The SX-One MicroKnife addresses all three factors. “It allows the physician to treat their patient in a less intimidating environment,” says Barnes. “They can do it in minutes while [patients] are wide awake, using local anesthetic.” And the recovery time is shortened significantly: “Patients recover in 3 to 6 days or less using this minimally invasive technique with our device, versus 6 to 8 weeks [with open surgery],” Barnes added.
Sonex Health was founded by Dr. Darryl Barnes and Dr. Jay Smith, two sports medicine physicians at the Mayo Clinic, along with Aaron Keenan, MBA, a former health care administrator at Mayo Clinic. They used ultrasound regularly in their clinical practice, says Barnes, and “we realized that we could see really all of the critical anatomy with ultrasound… and we could see it very clearly.” They saw the opportunity to use ultrasound to turn carpal tunnel surgeries into minimally invasive procedures.
Sonex Health was founded in 2014 and raised a seed round that same year. After a few years of product development, the SX-One MicroKnife was used to perform the first procedure in February 2017. It became commercially available in 2019 and has been used in over 5,000 procedures so far with excellent outcomes reported in multiple peer-review journals, according to Barnes.
Sonex Health is on a mission to bring ultrasound-guided procedures to physicians and the millions of patients they treat who would otherwise defer surgery and suffer from their symptoms. “We’re fearless disruptors,” says Barnes. “If we can’t change the way we treat our patients today, we can’t very well expect that we’re going to do anything better for them in the future.”
Learn more at Sonex Health homepage…