Gauss raises $3.3M for real-time surgical blood loss monitoring system, iPad app

FDA-approved Triton, an iPad blood loss app--Courtesy of Gauss Surgical

Gauss Surgical expects that its real-time blood loss monitoring system could help reduce the perceived need for transfusions--which it says are inappropriately used up to 60% of the time. The startup has raised $3.3 million to support its Triton System that offers a fast, easy assessment of blood loss during surgery.

The system is already in use at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UC Irvine Healthcare, the Memorial Care Health System and other hospitals. It has already won a pair of clearances: one in March for the measurement of blood loss in surgical suction containers and the other in May 2014 for the assessment of blood loss in surgical sponges.

The technology involves using an iPad camera to take a photo of the surgical canister or surgical sponges used. These images are sent to the cloud where they are analyzed via algorithms to assess the hemoglobin content and to assess blood loss regardless of potential confounding factors such as the presence of saline or irrigation fluid, lighting variations and the rupture of red cells.

"Typically, anesthesiologists and surgeons visually guesstimate the blood loss in suction containers, which has been shown to be highly inaccurate," noted Gauss CEO Milton McColl in a March statement. "We believe that providing more accurate estimates aids in clinical decision making, particularly regarding the use of blood products. This can have a significant impact on patient safety and overall quality of care."

In addition to overuse, blood transfusions also involve significantly higher complications and costs. The company cites studies arguing that blood transfusion raises the risks of patient mortality by 88%, of infections by 69%, of cancer recurrence by 42% and acute respiratory distress syndrome by 250%. In addition, transfusion involves the risk of transmission of unidentified pathogens. It's also costly to the healthcare system--with a single unit priced at as much as almost $1,200.

Gauss is not alone in its concern about the overuse of blood transfusion. The topic is a highly visible one--recently under scrutiny in a three-part series in The New Yorker. Even blood banks themselves have been publicly skeptical of the high utilization levels for blood transfusion.

For surgeons, the Triton system offers a real-time estimate of blood loss that incorporates both sponge and canister assessments. The expectation is that its implementation will result in more conservative use of blood transfusion during surgery.

The Los Altos, CA-based Gauss was founded in 2011. Its investors include De Novo Ventures, LifeForce Ventures, Promus Ventures and Taube Investment Partners.

- here is the SEC filing