Feature Article: The power of invention

By Jessica Fanning

The best ideas happen just before midnight. Or at least they do for Dr. Adam Power. That’s when he does most of his inventing - something he’s been doing since his residency.

Now the Program Director for Vascular Surgery at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and a practising vascular surgeon, Dr. Power has several provisional patents. He entered vascular surgery because he was inspired by the rapid rate of innovation and felt he could contribute with his own ideas.

“This a fairly new specialty and the devices are improving every year. The innovation in medical device development is really evolving,” Dr. Power explained. “During my career I know, I will see huge developments in vascular surgery and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”

Dr. Power has recently invented a Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta (REBOA) device that is poised to have a huge effect on the field of vascular surgery. When a patient experiences trauma and is bleeding into their abdomen, a common procedure is to put a REBOA device into the artery in the patient’s groin to block the aorta. But the device can be problematic.

“There are a number of problems with these devices. One is that you need a high degree of skill. I’m a vascular surgeon and even I have a hard time doing it sometimes,” said Dr. Power.

He explained further that the size of the device is directly proportional to the number and severity of complications. A larger device means more complications. These devices are measured in units called French (Fr). 1Fr equals 0.333 millimeters, which is a measure of the internal diameter of the device. The REBOA device that Dr. Power has invented is smaller than what is currently available.

“We have the world’s first 5Fr REBOA device. 7Fr is what they’re selling in the States and they’re calling that a game changer,” said Dr. Power.

This device will have a powerful effect on vascular surgery. “Instead of just having doctors put it in, you could potentially have paramedics putting it in with some training and without x-ray machines,” said the surgeon.

Success like this didn’t happen overnight. Dr. Power spends whatever spare time he can find dreaming up ideas, developing prototypes in his workshop, filing his own patents and pitching ideas to medical device companies.

“A lot of that stuff doesn’t see the light of day. If I didn’t tell you, you wouldn’t know that I had pitched probably 20 times to various companies 10 different ideas,” said Dr. Power. “But now I have a relationship with these companies and they are always willing to listen to my ideas and give me honest feedback.”

Dr. Power is proud to contribute to his field in such an important way and to have achieved what many believed was impossible.

“Our initial prototypes are a huge success," he said. "That is a milestone in my life. If this works the way that I think it’s going to work, it is a huge success for me to do something that people thought was impossible."

Dr. Power’s inventive side is not just reserved for medical devices; he also makes his own electronic music and occasionally DJs under the name DJ Rusty Scalpel.

As the Honorary Co-Class President for the Medicine Class of 2018, a title he shares with his twin brother, Dr. Nicholas Power, he is involved with the social events hosted by the Class, and puts his musical talents to good use.

“There were some students in that class who came up with the idea of having a night called Power Night where they would get together and raise money for Save the Mothers and they wanted me to do the music,” he explained.

DJ Rusty Scalpel provided the music for the event and his brother, aka VJ Dusty Foley, provided visuals to accompany the music.

Power Night was such a success that DJ Rusty Scalpel, VJ Dusty Foley and the Class of 2018 are already planning their next event, where the brothers will once again be trading the OR for the dance floor.