AbbeyMoor MedicalMISSION — AbbeyMoor Medical's mission is to improve patient quality of life and enhance healthcare delivery through the development of innovative medical devices and procedures. This will be accomplished by applying the latest technologies to develop safe and effective healthcare products that are minimally invasive and cost effective.
By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press
Simply said, AbbeyMoor Medical develops products to improve male urinary health.
However, if you're one of the men who have been helped by an AbbeyMoor medical product, the company is much more than a medical device company - it remarkably changes lives.
Particularly a device called The Spanner.
Headquartered in Parkers Prairie, the local company is best known internationally for the innovative development of a medical device that offers relief for men suffering from reduced urine flow as a result of an enlarged prostate.
AbbeyMoor Medical invented The Spanner Prostatic Stent - a silicone tube that holds open the obstructing tissue in a man's enlarged prostate.
As the prostate gland enlarges, it squeezes the urethra - the tube that runs from the bladder out of the body - making it difficult for a man to empty his bladder.
The Spanner provides an open channel through which a man can empty his bladder. It's an alternative to a catheter and collection bag.
AbbeyMoor CEO John Reid said, "Any man who has to wear a catheter, for whatever reason, would prefer The Spanner if it's an option."
The Spanner does not have any external parts and, when in place, allows the rest of the urinary system to work, according to Reid.
Men who have to wear a traditional Foley catheter and collection bag do not have control of urine flow.
LOCAL DOCTOR, PATIENTS USE SPANNER
The Spanner is the only temporary stent for the prostate available in the U.S. and the device can be inserted and removed in a doctor's office.
Dr. Kurt Hansberry works at Alexandria Clinic and he is one of the first U.S. doctors to use The Spanner.
Hansberry said The Spanner is a niche product in the urological field, used for a very specific purpose; it's a stopgap measure for a man who may not tolerate a surgical procedure, and it also may help determine whether a man will benefit from a surgical procedure.
Some of the first men in the country to have The Spanner placed live in the Alexandria area.
Local roots have kept the company here in West Central Minnesota. Lloyd Willard, who co-founded AbbeyMoor, lives in Miltona, and Mark Whalen, who led the research and development effort, lives in Alexandria.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE SPANNER
Reid said AbbeyMoor is working diligently to educate urologists about The Spanner and launch the innovative product into larger markets.
"We can't give up on making a profound difference in the lives of many men," Reid said. "We're trying to help urologists understand that and make it community wisdom in their field. It will happen."
In the meantime, exciting things are happening for the company:
• Sanford Health, of Sioux Falls, is conducting clinical trials of The Spanner to determine the feasibility of reduced rates of infection during hospital stays.
• A Mayo Clinic urologist is studying how The Spanner might help diagnose prostate conditions.
• There's potential for The Spanner to be a device that delivers drugs directly to the prostate.
• The Spanner could be beneficial for Muslim men, who - when wearing a catheter and bag - often stop going to daily prayers because they believe the collection bag is "unclean."
Innovation and community support
"For a little bitty company, [The Spanner] is really an innovation," Reid said. "And the support from the local community has been breathtaking. People of this community have been so, so supportive.
"We probably couldn't have made it without their support," he said.
AbbeyMoor currently employs six people.
"I couldn't ask for a better team," Reid said.
AbbeyMoor Medical currently holds:
• 13 U.S. patents
• 8 U.S. patents are under review
• 12 patents pending internationally
Benefits of The Spanner over standard urethral catheter
• Quality of life. The Spanner does not have any external parts, whereas a catheter extends out of the body to a urine collection bag.
• Lower rate of infection. The rate of bacteriuria with a catheter is four to five times faster than with The Spanner.
• Control. The Spanner allows the urinary system to void urine normally, whereas a catheter drains the bladder with gravity, not muscle control.
In the U.S.:
• 50 percent of men at age 50 experience some urinary dysfunction, increasing to more than 90 percent at age 80.
• More than 12 million men suffered lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in 2008.
• 3 million men are taking drugs for LUTS.
• Statistically, 50 percent of these men stop taking drugs during the first year due to poor symptom improvement or side effects such as dry mouth, irritability or loss of sex drive.