World’s smallest camera changing the scope for stroke victims in medicine


With the advancement of medicine and technology, new discoveries are pivotal for mankind’s sustainable future. This new potential life saving news is pioneered and honed by two graduates from the University of Waterloo: Michael Phillips and his roommate Phillip Cooper. They both graduated in 2017 with a bachelors in mechanical engineering with an entrepreneurship option and co-founded Vena Medical

Termed as the Vena MicroAngioscope and the Vena Balloon Distal Access Catheter (Vena BDAC), these two inventions strive to save stroke victims by removing blood clots in the brain. The Vena MicroAngioscope provides physicians with the world’s smallest camera, flexible and capable of going inside veins and arteries. It was invented for their Capstone Design project which ended up securing support from the Esch awards, the Engineer of the Future Fund, and the Palihapitiya Venture Creation Fund, for a total of $50,000. 

Vena BDAC, their other, relatively new invention recently acquired Health Canada’s approval. Combined with the balloon guide catheters and distal access catheters that are currently used in thrombectomy, it allows for closer removal of clots from the stroke victims’ brains. This improves the key metrics like first pass success rate, allowing for the removal of the clot on the first try leading to significantly better patient outcomes. “First pass” is defined as the insertion of the laryngoscope blade into the oropharynx — a part of the throat at the back of the mouth, behind the oral cavity — regardless of whether an attempt was made to pass the endotracheal tube. First-pass success is crucial for  reducing adverse events such as hypoxemia and aspiration. Their method also reduces the number of devices needed to treat each patient which, in turn, reduces the overall cost of the procedure.

In an interview with GlobeNewswire, Phillips expressed his thoughts on Health Canada licensing their innovations as follows:

“The issuance of our first Health Canada Medical Device License shows that we’re capable of bringing innovative solutions to the neurovascular space. The Vena BDAC is the result of intensive collaboration with physicians who perform these procedures every day. The addition of pivotal team members is a sign of our commitment to bring devices like the BDAC to market and ultimately get them into the hands of the clinicians performing these life changing procedures.” 

Vena Medical’s head of commercial operations, Adam Karamath, told GlobeNewsWire expressing his thoughts on the team’s trajectory. 

“Obtaining important regulatory clearances like this one, coupled with the expansion of our team through key senior hires is allowing us to transition from a start-up to a scale-up.” 

Phillip and Cooper started Vena Medical in 2017, and now have a team of six people helping them  achieve the goals that they have set for themselves. They have also recently announced the successful treatment of five patients in the World at London Health Services Center (LSHC) University Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital.   Their pre-clinical trials have been published in the American Journal of NeroRadiology and the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery as they soar to make a change in the medical world.