Blood loss app: Startup takes out guesswork

“When I was in the operating room we always guessed how much blood was lost and for the last 30 years this is what people have been doing,” says Milton B. McColl, CEO of Gauss Surgical over the phone from Los Altos, California.

Keeping track of blood loss during surgery might be taken for granted but it actually involves a lot of guesswork based on the weights of sponges. Yet with the clock-ticking a degree of accuracy needed for the well-being of the patient is crucial. Studies have shown that overestimation of blood loss can lead to unnecessary blood transfusions and underestimation can lead to delay in lifesaving haemorrhage interventions.

This is why Gauss Surgical has developed an app that measures blood loss during surgery. “You take a picture of the sponge with an iPad,” explains McColl. “The picture goes up on the cloud where the data is transmitted. An algorithm then figures out how much haemoglobin and blood is on that sponge. This information immediately goes back onto the device and tells how much blood and haemoglobin is on that sponge and then we continue to do that throughout the case.”

It sounds pretty simple but the potential is huge: “Woman are having babies and bleeding out afterwards. The doctors don’t really know how much blood has been lost and all of a sudden if you get too late and there has been too much blood loss it’s hard to do something,” says McColl. “With this, doctors can know ahead of time what is happening and try to make better decisions on what to do with that patient.”

McColl tells me that Siddarth Satish, Founder of Gauss Surgical was the “brains” behind this idea and proposed it to McColl about four years ago when they met at Stanford. At the time, Satish was a grad student and the two joined forces. Satish would bring the technical expertise to the table and McColl would work on the business side of things.

McColl says the app in laymen’s terms is accurate to about 90% and can “finally give the clinician and the anaesthesiologist a much better handle of how much blood a patient has lost”.

The data is sent back in real-time during the surgery and there is even an algorithm that gives an indication of how much blood a normal patient would be losing in a particular procedure: “So if they are in the middle of the range they know they are doing a normal procedure and things are going normally.”

Gauss Surgical has launched the FDA cleared app and currently has five customers on board with more in the pipeline. At the moment the product is being rolled out in the US but McColl says eventually with enough resources they hope to go international.

What are the plans for the future?

“There’s a lot of things you can monitor in the operating room with the iPad,” he concludes. This software can better manage blood and transfusions to “give better care…. [there are] a lot of things we are excited about.”


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Ayesha Salim

Ayesha Salim is Staff Writer at IDG Connect

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