Rochester Doctors Create Revolutionary Carpal Tunnel Treatment in Garage

November 18, 2017 01:38 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. is capping of entrepreneurship week in Rochester with an event honoring local start-ups.

The 4th annual "Recognizing Awarding Valuing Entrepreneurs, or RAVE, recognized three area businesses.


The founders of Sonex Health, a Rochester – based company, were recognized for their product, which is revolutionizing the way carpal tunnel syndrome is treated. The SX – One MicroKnife is taking patients out of operating rooms and into physician offices.

"Twelve million people in the country have carpal tunnel syndrome,” said Co-Founder, Dr. Jay Smith. “We knew there was a better way to treat it than what we had surgically. That's why we developed the device."

The less-invasive method uses ultrasound imaging to look inside a patient’s wrist and hand. A small incision - smaller than the diameter of a pencil - is then made to insert the MicroKnife.

Once in position, miniature balloons are inflated to create a “safe zone” before the transverse carpal ligament is cut.

The big idea began in a small space.

"We created this in our garage,” said Co-Founder, Dr. Darryl Barnes. "Dr. Smith and I are neighbors and so we have been in practice at Mayo together for quite some time now."

Barnes and Smith brought the idea to Aaron Keenan, who has a background in Health Administration and Engineering.

The three launched Sonex in 2014. By February of 2017, they treated their first patient. "And now we are over 250 cases to date,” said Barnes.

Normally, surgery for carpal tunnel takes about four to six weeks of recovery time. "With our device, it's about three to six days,” said Barnes.

So far, 21 physicians in 11 different States are trained to do the procedure.

"We are trying to look in 2018 to actually get somewhere between 90 and 100 physicians across the country to actually implement this in their practices," said Keenan.

Recovery in millimeters, not months -- the MicroKnife is aimed at taking patient care to the next level.

The co-founders say the treatment meets regulatory requirements in many other countries.  Once it is established in the United States, they will look into expanding the company globally.

The two other businesses recognized at Friday's event are Envirolastech and Licks Pill Free.

Envirolastech turns plastic milk jugs and recycled materials into faux wood used to make long-lasting pallets and decking.

Winona-based Licks Pill Free created all-natural pet supplements in liquid and gummy forms, making it easier to administer to pets.


Hannah Tiede

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