Esophageal Stent

Region: Kenya
Purdue Collaborator: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

The Challenge: 

Kenya has one of the highest incidences of esophageal cancer, a devastating, and regrettably common, disease in the developing world. n many cases, the advanced cancer state at the time of diagnosis makes the patient eligible only for palliative end-of-life care (restoring esophageal patency). However, a low-cost solution to restoring esophageal patency and, thus, quality of life for terminal patients does not yet exist.

Physicians at Moi Teaching & Referral Hospital (MTRH) in western Kenya regularly see many patients with esophageal cancer. Unfortunately, these physicians are unable to provide affordable care for the average patient.  By the time most patients arrive at MTRH, their cancer has progressed to the point that they are only eligible for palliation by esophageal stenting. The current clinical options are Self-Expanding Esophageal Metal Stents (SEMS) or rigid plastic stents. The non-expanding, rigid plastic stents (tubes) are very risky and inefficient since migration is typical, multiple sizes and multiple deliveries are typically needed, and each deployment further damages esophageal tissue.  SEMS are significantly safer, but much more expensive.  The price of the least expensive SEMS is between USD 100-150 (4); which is well beyond the resources of many Kenyans.  This forces patients to choose between cost and risk of serious complications.  Many Kenyan families choose to deplete their entire savings to provide this relief.

The Purdue Innovation

The project will develop a novel, low-cost esophageal stent that can be manufactured sustainably in Kenya, thus relieving suffering for many Kenyans from devastating esophageal cancer. The initial result will be the co-design of two prototypes for low-cost esophageal stenting: an adjustable coiled plastic stent; and a silicone stent with a light-fixed polymer skeleton.

The Partners

Purdue University, Moi University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya

Investigator Names

  • Andrew Brightman (BME)
  • L.J. Smith and T.A. Carr, IU School of Medicine and AMPATH Gastroenterology
  • John Githaiga, Moi University, School of Engineering
  • Fatma Some, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH)