Commercial Launch of the Long SpineSTAR® Ablation Instrument

DFINE® Announces Commercial Launch of the Long SpineSTAR® Ablation Instrument for the Palliative Treatment of Metastatic Spine Tumors

SpineSTARs extended working length provides spine specialists greater access and ability to precisely target metastatic spine tumors in order to offer patients rapid, sustained pain relief improving their quality of life. 

San Jose, Calif. (PRWEB) December 15, 2015 — DFINE, Inc., today announced the commercial launch of its Long SpineSTAR® Ablation Instrument.  Long SpineSTAR is the latest innovation by the Silicon Valley medical device manufacturer and is part of the company’s flagship STAR Tumor Ablation System.  The new surgical instrument incorporates new product refinements including a longer working length and a redesigned electrode knob for easier use, enabling the physician to access painful spinal tumors throughout the vertebral body.  The STAR System uses radiofrequency or thermal heat to ablate the tumor to achieve rapid and sustained pain relief in a procedure called targeted-Radiofrequency Ablation (t-RFA).

There are an estimated 280,000 adults in the United States living with metastatic bone disease; with as much as 70% of all cancer patients developing spinal metastases over their lifetime.1, 2  These tumors are often extremely painful and debilitating for patients, negatively impacting their quality of life and social functioning with an increased dependence on narcotic pain medication.  Targeted-Radiofrequency Ablation (t-RFA) is an advanced minimally invasive treatment that provides a new option for patients to relieve their pain while maintaining compatibility with traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Targeted-Radiofrequency Ablation is an outpatient procedure, performed by spine specialists, most commonly under sedation and local anesthesia. Clinical studies have demonstrated that patients typically experience dramatic, immediate and durable pain relief with >50% of the study patients being able to reduce their use of pain medications.3, 4   Compared to conventional radiation therapy alone, the combined therapeutic approach of radiofrequency ablation and conventional radiation therapy has been reported to significantly improve patient outcomes by improving the percentage of patients experiencing overall pain response from 60% to over 90%, decreasing time to pain relief (3 vs. 9 weeks), and resulting in less recurrent pain requiring retreatment.

“We developed the Long SpineSTAR to expand the physician’s ability to utilize this technology in larger patients and certain difficult to access vertebrae,” said Greg Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of DFINE.  “This is a significant step forward in our mission to dramatically improve the lives of all patients suffering from the pain and loss of function caused by metastatic spinal tumors. Clinical evaluation of the STAR System has resulted in a 77% reduction of pain3 and significant improvement (p<0.01) in patients quality of life.6

The SpineSTAR® Ablation Instrument is the only steerable and navigational radiofrequency device on the market, allowing accurate placement and easy repositioning throughout the vertebral body from a unipedicular approach. The articulating design is built for use in the unique anatomy of the spine to allow physicians easy access to the posterior region of the vertebral body to create site-specific targeted ablation zones.

“The STAR System has allowed me to treat patients spine tumor related pain in a minimally invasive fashion resulting in significant improvements in pain and quality of life,” said Jack Jennings, MD, Associate Professor in Radiology, Director of Musculoskeletal and Spine Intervention, Washington University School of Medicine.  “The t-RFA procedure is compatible with traditional cancer therapy, often allowing patients to continue chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy with less discomfort.  The Long SpineSTAR’s increased length will allow us to access and treat a broader spectrum of vertebrae and patients.”

The STAR Tumor Ablation system was released in the US in 2012, and has been performed on over 4,000 patients worldwide.  The Company is also conducting a number of clinical studies including the prospective, multi-center STAART Study which is currently enrolling patients at leading cancer centers across the United States.

You can read the online version of this press release here

  1. Li et al. Clinical Epidemiology 2012:4 87–93
  2. Fisher et al. Radiation Oncology 2014, 9:69
  3. Anchala et al. Pain Physician. 2014 Jul-Aug; 17(4):317-27.
  4. Hillen et al. Radiology. 2014 Oct; 273(1):261-7.
  5. Di Staso et al. Eur Radiol (2011) 21:2004–2010
  6. Bagla et al. J Vasc Interv Radiol 2015; 26:e86.

I Am Merit: Stephanie Poulsen

Senior Product Manager Stephanie Poulsen speaks about her role guiding strategies for the development of products used for diagnostic and interventional procedures. And more recently, her focus on products specific to the radial approach, a technique that has grown significantly around the world because it allows patients to get up and return to their lives faster. In her I am Merit video interview, Steph shares why she believes that her work at Merit is truly important and how it has touched her life personally.

I Am Merit: Casey Holland

Casey Holland reviewing clinical research with her staff.

Casey Holland reviewing clinical research with her staff.

Casey Holland, Clinical Operations Manager for Merit Medical, Rockland, Massachusetts, USA.

Perspective. I started working with BioSphere in 2007 in Quality and Regulatory Affairs, which worked closely with Medical Affairs. I worked hard during this period of time. I was really starting to focus and gain perspective on my career, which lead me to make the transition into Clinical Research in 2009. Then Merit acquired BioSphere in 2010 and I became a Merit employee. In 2012, I obtained my Masters degree from Northeastern University in Regulatory Affairs for Drugs, Biologics and Medical Devices. My Masters degree gave me detailed knowledge of all regulations pertaining to the development and commercialization of medical device products. Currently, I oversee all operations for three FDA approved clinical trials using Merit Medical products.

Most Rewarding. I feel that every part of my work is rewarding. Being the Clinical Operations Manager comes with great responsibility and importance. I manage a staff of ten highly specialized individuals here at the Merit office in Rockland, Massachusetts. We run three clinical trials involving hundreds of patients. The importance of clinical trials can’t be understated. All of my efforts are directed towards helping people. The development of innovative new treatments and products are important to the ever changing Healthcare Industry. Clinical trials are a crucial part of the innovation and development. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. But I am making a difference in the lives of patients through medical research. Having found my way of helping people, is what’s truly rewarding.

My Part in Our Vision. Merit Medical has the vision to “make a difference by understanding our customers needs.” Being the Clinical Operations Manager my work is directed towards understanding and documenting the needs of the patient. Just because a treatment is being used today, doesn’t mean that the treatment should be used tomorrow. Understanding the needs of the customer requires research and the development of new treatments. Clinical research gives us the ability to understand these needs and bring new products to the market.

New York Yankees? Absolutely not. No way. Not ever. I’m from Boston, our sports teams are a way of life here. Being from Boston, it’s not even a question of being a fan of our teams. We just are. We are Boston Strong. I just went to a Patriots game last weekend. It’s hard to explain, it’s just a real big thing and not just for the Red Sox, it’s for all our sports teams.

I Am Merit: Brandon Beck

Brandon presenting a manufacturing flow chart for an NPI project.

Brandon Beck, Senior Engineer for Merit Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA

My story here began 20 years ago: I started working here in the now “Merit Malvern” office twenty years ago, right after graduating from Penn State University. When I started it was Thomas Medical and I was a supervisor who worked on the team that built the Classic Sheath, a device for implanting leads for pacemakers and defibrillators. Years later we were acquired by GE Healthcare and then in December 2012, by Merit Medical. Now I’m a Senior Manufacturing Engineer, which means I look after our manufacturing processes to ensure efficiencies and quality, including ECN’s and validations. I review work that others produce and mentor other engineers so they can grow in their professions.

Thomas, then GE, then Merit: The transitions from company to company has been a positive experience. There’s a group of us who have been together for 15-20 years and have gone through these transitions together, making it all feel familiar. However, looking back over the past 20 years, I have been presented with so many varying opportunities and challenges. My goals from day-to-day and year-to-year are never the same. This has made working here feel new, exciting and challenging all the time.

What do you enjoy most about being a Manufacturing Engineer: I love solving problems all day long. Sometimes I feel like a CSI investigator. I love to fix and improve things so I spent many months training to receive my Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Black Belt certifications. Several years ago, we found that we were carrying six months of inventory for one of our most popular products. Utilizing lean and six sigma techniques and working with a team to determine how to reduce waste – we reduced the number of people working on that line by half and now only carry a two week inventory. These efficiencies benefit Merit and our customers.

Tell us about a project you feel most proud of: I’m proud of many of the projects I’ve worked on but the first one that comes to mind is the Steerable Sheath. I was the lead manufacturing engineer working with R&D and it was the first new project coming out of R&D Malvern incorporating lean manufacturing techniques. The steerable sheath is the most complex product we’ve built in Malvern because it has the most parts and several new unique processes. We’re already at 98% yield and labor is the smallest portion of the cost of the product.

After work: I married my wife Meredith the same week I was hired by Thomas Medical, 20 years ago, and my marriage and my career here are still going strong! Meredith and I have three teenagers – two sons and a daughter. Matthew is in college and Christopher and Sarah are in high school. I love hockey and played ice hockey at Penn State. But my real hobby passion is disc golf. Disc golf allows me to see beautiful places while playing a competitive and fun sport. I look forward to playing disc golf at the Solitude Mountain Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon next time I am in Utah to visit HQ.

Merit Medical to Exhibit Dialysis Product Line at Controversies in Dialysis (CiDA) Conference in New Orleans, October 29-30, 2015

The world’s premier dialysis access conference will be held in New Orleans, LA. We look forward to meeting the attendees who come to CiDA to discuss unique techniques and devices for hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis access.

Merit Medical’s full suite of innovative dialysis products are designed to help improve your patient’s quality of life when treating end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Our comprehensive dialysis product line features long-term hemodialysis catheters and peritoneal dialysis implantation kits, catheters, and accessories. These products are designed to meet the unique clinical needs of the ESRD patient.

For every step of your dialysis procedure, Merit Medical offers high-quality products for dialysis therapy. From preparation to intervention, our products will help you achieve the clinical, economical, and procedural efficiency that is essential for delivering the best possible care.

We look forward to seeing you at CiDA!

Nate Smith
Senior Product Manager

Lynette Ruppel
Senior Product Manager
Peritoneal Dialysis

I Am Merit: Michelle Molin-Savelkoul

Michelle Molin-Savelkoul
Manager, Customer Service for Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA)
photo: Leon Vrijdag Fotografie

Tell us about managing Merit Medical’s Customer Service for all of Europe, Middle East and Africa: I manage Merit Medical’s customer service for our distributors, direct customers (hospitals) as well as the tender department for all of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEA). When I started (on November 3, 2008), there were three of us in the Distributor Customer Service department for EMEA and approximately 20 people at our facility. Over the past 7 years the number of employees increased to just over 60 people and I now manage 24 customer service employees, soon to be 25 before the end of this year!

I work from our European Headquarters in beautiful Maastricht in the very southern region of The Netherlands on the border of Belgium and Germany.

Tolerance is Key for EMEA Customer Service: The biggest (and most rewarding) challenge for our EMEA Customer Service team is working with 75 countries that speak 12 different languages. This includes 14 countries that sell direct to hospitals and 61 distributor countries. Our team services 1,830 external customers and 75 Merit EMEA sales representatives! Our team speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Russian, English, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish and Italian and at all times we need to make sure that someone who speaks that language is available to speak with customers calling in.

Tolerance is a very important trait to have when you work in EMEA customer service because we must be familiar with and sensitive to so many different cultures. So I’m sensitive to having a team with a good vibe and I look for people who can maintain a sense of humor while managing so many customers and nationalities.

On why it’s all important to Michelle: I once had a job opportunity to work for a company in a different industry. It didn’t feel important to me – medical devices save lives, they are important and that’s why I love this industry. This was confirmed recently when my husband David suddenly had a heart attack at age 39. Products like the ones that Merit manufactures saved his life. We got married this past weekend after 15 years of being together. I would trust Merit products to go into my husband’s body – I know that we make the highest quality and we do everything we can to produce the best we can.

What about Merit do you enjoy: Merit has a family feeling, it’s like a second home. The people in this company give you that second family feeling. And Customer Service feels to me like the center of everything. We provide all of the information to planning so they can ensure products ship on time, to finance, to logistics, to regulatory, to marketing, to the customer, internally and externally. To them we are the face of Merit.

I have especially enjoyed working with Justin Lampropoulos – he helped me move up from distributor customer service representative to my current position as Customer Service Manager for EMEA. He has motivated me all along the way. His vision for Merit to be the most customer-focused company has been my mantra for our EMEA customer service team – give every country what they need – do anything and everything we can for the customer. That’s what makes Merit very unique in our industry.

After work: On the weekends I love to take my two daughters horseback riding. Yadira is 11 and Yuna is 8. Horses really help me to destress from the week and it’s an activity we love doing together.

Merit Medical featured in Utah Business Connect magazine

Justin Lampropoulos, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Strategy for Merit Medical Systems, recently contributed the article, “The Building Blocks of Sustainable International Growth,” to Business Connect Utah magazine. In his article he shares key insights into growing a business internationally, including finding shared culture and values, developing successful channels and building a brand in a new market.

Merit Medical derives nearly 50% of its business from global markets outside the United States. This global success and Merit’s continued growth stems from smart, forward-thinking tactics as well as the company’s stated vision to deliver the best health care possible. Merit uses this universal foundation to follow through globally on its corporate vision: Each day we are determined to make a difference by understanding our customers’ needs, and innovating and delivering a diverse range of products that improve the lives of people, families, and communities throughout the world.

Read the Business Connect Utah article.

ThinkRadial™ Establishes Influential Presence at CIRSE

Largest Interventional Radiology Event of the Year Is Site for Transradial Education from Leading Industry Source ThinkRadial™

LISBON, PORTUGAL – September 26, 2015 – Merit Medical Systems, Inc. and its renowned ThinkRadial™ education program will host a targeted symposium at this year’s Annual Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) Annual Meeting.  The ThinkRadial™ Symposium “Transradial Approach in Interventional Radiology” will provide attendees with the latest information about utilizing the radial artery for interventional radiology procedures.

ThinkRadial™ Symposium at CIRSE – “Transradial Approach in Interventional Radiology”

WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 – 13:00 – 14:00
WHERE: Auditorium 6
WHO: Moderator: Professor Dr. Christoph A. Binkert – CIRSE Scientific Programme Committee Deputy Chairperson, Director of Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine and Chief of Radiology at Kantonsspital Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland.

Speakers: Dr. Darren Klass, Interventional Radiologist at Vancouver Imaging, working at Vancouver General and UBC Hospitals in Vancouver, Canada; and Dr. Aaron M. Fischman, Assistant Professor of Radiology and Surgery in the Division of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Merit Medical/ThinkRadial™ Booth #45 The Merit Medical CIRSE booth will feature information about its embolics and radial product portfolios as well as ThinkRadial™, a program powered by Merit Medical that offers immersive radial training courses, advanced workshops, and ongoing education and support.

WHEN: Sept. 26 – 30, 2015
WHO: Available for briefings with the media

  • Justin Lampropoulos, Executive Vice President, Merit Medical Sales, Marketing and Strategy and recognized as one of the “40 Medtech Innovators Under 40” by the industry. 
  • Rob Jenkins, Executive Vice President, EMEA

Physicians Partner with Merit to further the field of Interventional Radiology In conjunction with CIRSE, Merit Medical has partnered with several well-respected physicians to highlight its commitment to advancing the field of interventional radiology. This powerful branding campaign called “Starts with ME,” profiles Dr. Darren Klass, Interventional Radiologist at Vancouver Imaging, working at Vancouver General and UBC Hospitals in Vancouver, Canada; Dr. Amman Bolia –Consultant Radiologist for the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in Leicester, United Kingdom and nominated for a Pioneer in Performance award by CIRSE; and Dr. Christoph A. Binkert, CIRSE Scientific Programme Committee Deputy Chairperson, Director of Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine and Chief of Radiology at Kantonsspital Winterthur, Winterthur, Switzerland.

The campaign demonstrates that Merit Medical is committed to a company culture that takes a listen-first approach to product development to best support its clinician customers’ efforts to advance their fields and achieve better patient outcomes.


To schedule an interview at the ThinkRadial booth or to attend the ThinkRadial Symposium contact: Theresa Gubler 001-801-208-1100, [email protected].

ABOUT ThinkRadial™ ThinkRadial, powered by Merit Medical Systems, Inc., is a community of clinicians and experts committed to furthering transradial access for better patient outcomes and healthcare economics. ThinkRadial provides trainings, clinical field assistance, patient resources and promotional opportunities for physicians seeking to begin or advance their transradial practice. The ThinkRadial world-class, hands-on transradial training is offered at sites in numerous countries around the globe. These courses are designed to provide comprehensive exposure to transradial interventional skills ranging from case selection and preparation to procedural logistics and equipment selection as well as a significant focus on technical skills, troubleshooting and management of complications., guided by an impressive roster of Board of Advisors (, provides access to a comprehensive library of peer-reviewed articles, clinical literature, books, numerous videos, and a blog on the transradial approach. Please visit

I Am Merit: Michelle Xu

Michelle Xu, Asian Channel Management Supervisor

Above all else, Merit Asia’s third employee, Michelle Xu, Channel Management Supervisor, enjoys working with her dedicated Merit colleagues “who never say never.”

Working for Merit Asia as it continues to grow: I joined Merit Asia five and a half years ago in 2010 as an Administration Assistant. I was the third employee then, and now, as of the end of September, we have 89 employees with Merit Asia! I enjoy working for Merit because it is a friendly, flexible and open environment to present your opinions, share your ideas and discuss better solutions. A good work ethic is always encouraged and outstanding performance is rewarded. Merit provides us with different kinds of opportunities to thrive.

Her responsibilities as Channel Management Supervisor: As Asian Channel Management Supervisor I manage 380 distributors in Mainland China and 30 distributors in Southeast Asia. My key responsibilities include conducting due diligence, legal documentation review, on-line compliance training and Agreement and Letter of Authorization as well as distributor performance evaluation and incentives calculation. In addition to my distributor responsibilities I manage sales promotion control, internal process improvements, data analysis and dealer training. Channel Management is an important function that acts like a “doorkeeper,” to monitor distributors’ qualification and activities, and like a “bridge,” to build up a channel and connect external distributors with internal Merit sales representatives. As the Channel Management Supervisor, I ensure that Merit is receiving maximum benefit from our distributors and contribute to the overall sales organization.

On what she enjoys most about Merit: No doubt, if nothing else, THE PEOPLE! People are precious to Merit. All of our incredible achievements have come from the Merit team’s continuous efforts and amazing creations. I enjoy my colleagues who are professional, dedicated and never say never. I am delighted to work with them and celebrate every milestone moment together.

How she spends her time outside of work: I am an outdoor enthusiast and like swimming, spinning, mountain climbing and hiking. I will travel around the world during my annual holiday. Reading books and cooking are also my favorites during my spare time.

I Am Merit: Sarah Spangler

Sales Engineer Sarah Spangler customizes Merit Medical products and devices for Merit’s OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) customers. Sarah spends her days collaborating with the OEM sales team, customers and other Merit engineers to ensure that we can provide a product that meets the customers’ needs and procedures. Watch her video interview.

I Am Merit: Ricardo Alvarez

Ricardo always tries to include his team – because his team makes him feel successful.

At Merit Medical’s newest facility in Tijuana, Mexico, Manufacturing Manager Ricardo Alvarez does everything he can to ensure his employees feel successful – because his team is what makes Ricardo feel successful.

The path to becoming the 2nd employee at Merit Tijuana: I moved my family to Tijuana in January 2014 when I accepted a position with Integra, a contract manufacturer to Merit for seven years. At Integra I assembled a high performance team to produce Merit products with high standards for Safety, Quality, Delivery and Costs. This April, I had the privilege to become part of the Merit family as the Manufacturing Manager and second employee at the new Merit Tijuana Mexico Plant.

Ricardo’s Hiring Philosophy: I currently have 190 total employees covering Engineering, Facilities, Maintenance and Production. I always try to include my team because my team makes me successful. When I hire I look more at personality and values. I take interviewees to the manufacturing floor to see whether they are passionate and enjoy what they do. Technical skills can be learned, but personality and values is so important because they need to fit well with the team and the company’s vision.

How Ricardo Shapes the Merit Culture in Tijuana: Right now we’re the new kids on the block in Tijuana. But my goal is for employees to stay here a long time because many on our corporate team have 15-20 years seniority! And I believe we can achieve that goal if we follow the Merit culture treating people the best we can and looking after our employees’ personal lives. For example, here at Merit we provide free transportation to and from work, lunch and snacks and life insurance – these benefits are not typical around Tijuana and we want to be the best!

On his Commitment to Work and Family: My passion is Manufacturing Operations and I feel a high degree of responsibility to ensure every single device is manufactured with quality, delivered on time, meets standard costs and exceeds the expectations of our customers, so they can use my products or any other Merit device to improve their quality of life. My best hobby is my family: my wife Alessandra Aranda is my motivation, she supports me in many ways, listening, coaching and living in the manufacturing world with me. We have two children, Constanza age 9, she loves to do yoga, and Andre who is 2 is getting ready to play Soccer! We enjoy biking or simply watching a movie together and the best feeling is to end up the week every Sunday with the work done and the family happy!

I Am Merit: Maeve Harris

Maeve Harris

The large decal on the wall of Maeve’s pack area was her unique idea to make the room special and different. It remains one of the most colorful work spaces throughout all of Merit’s facilities

At Merit Medical’s Galway facility, Quotes and Samples Analyst, Maeve Harris, enjoys meeting directly with physician customers and helping them find solutions that make their jobs more efficient.

Maeve’s Unique Role at Merit Medical: A Merit sales rep from Europe or a distributor from the Middle East or Asia will come to me if one of their physician customers wants a procedure pack. They’ll tell me what they want in that procedure pack and I’ll price it out and build a non-sterile sample to send to the customer. The procedure pack will include everything the doctor needs for that specific procedure, from devices to accessories that Merit doesn’t manufacture, like drapes. These packs save a lot of time for the hospitals and make the doctor’s job more efficient. Once the doctor orders the pack, my job is done until they want to make a change – then they come back to me.

Why she loves coming to work every day: The doctors come to our Vision Building in Galway to meet with me and pull product from our shelves. We collect it all in the pack work area and I build the pack with the customer. I get to meet many new people all the time – our international sales reps and our customers. Every day is different. I really enjoy being able to find solutions for our customers and seeing their appreciation for the opportunity to visit the beautiful Merit facility and the customized efforts we make on their behalf.

On why she stays settled at Merit: I grew up in the middle of Ireland. I’ve lived in several places, as distant as Australia. I’ve tried a few different careers. I was a bit of a wanderer until I moved to Galway to work for Merit six years ago. I started on the production line and later became team leader, eventually helping to start Merit’s custom packs business in 2012 – the first production lot was very exciting! I feel very lucky to have been moved up from production – Merit has given me opportunities. There’s always something new for me to learn here and it keeps me going.

After work: I love hiking in the mountains and beauty of Ireland. I come from a large family – four sisters and one brother and my nieces keep me very busy!

If you could send one message to our customers: Merit provides a very individually tailored product and experience for our customers. Other companies claim that they customize, but they don’t customize like we truly do.

Successful Summer ThinkRadial Training Course

The ThinkRadial team is grateful to the clinicians who came from around the US and England to join them for the two-day training course hosted at Merit Medical’s beautiful campus in Salt Lake City, Utah. The program was kicked off on Thursday with welcome remarks, a tour of the facility and an enjoyable evening welcome reception with Merit and the course attendees.


Dr. Sandeep Nathan of the University of Chicago, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director, Interventional Cardiology for the University of Chicago Medical Center, was the featured faculty presenter. Beyond his engaging presentations and demonstrations on transradial approach, Dr. Nathan fielded many questions from attendees regarding potential roadblocks, which devices to use and when and how he would approach certain complications that could arise. At the end of the course Dr. Nathan provided his contact info to attendees so they could send him questions once they were back in their own practice.


On Friday evening, the ThinkRadial team organized a trip to the charming mountain town of Park City so the group could see the area. Before heading home on Saturday, attendees participated in a lively review of potential transradial complications and how to address them.

ThinkRadial is looking forward to hosting another group of clinicians at the next course scheduled for September 24-26 at the beautiful Merit Medical Vision Building in Galway, Ireland—then back to Utah October 22-24th. Click here to learn more and to register:

I Am Merit: Connie Ackerman

Connie Akerman

Merit Medical’s Production Planning Manager on her approach to Planning, her work/family balance and how she takes her responsibilities “personally.”

Connie’s History with Merit: “I’ve worked with Fred (as in Fred Lampropoulos, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Merit Medical) for more than 32 years, starting in 1983 at Utah Medical. I started on the production line and moved up through several positions to Planning. Fred brought me to Merit Medical’s Planning Department in 1991 as a Planner for our production and molding facilities. In 2011, I was promoted to Manager of Production Planning for all manufacturing out of Merit’s Utah HQ and today I manage seven, soon to be eight Planners.”

Her Loyalty to Merit Medical: “Fred’s dedication, drive and commitment to his employees makes Merit feel like a home away from home. Fred is just as committed to the people here as he is to the business. And that’s why we’ve grown like we have – it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come! Sometimes you just want to say slow down!! But he just keeps going. Fred has inspired my work ethic and set my drive. I’m not sure I could work for someone other than Fred or anywhere other than Merit for these reasons.”

On her Approach to Planning: “I see Planning as the hub of Merit. We could stop a hospital from completing procedures if a product doesn’t get there. Therefore my job is an important step in saving a patient’s life – and I take this responsibility personally. This drives me in everything I do, from my persistent personality to get things done, to hiring Planners who share this same drive. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we meet our customers’ needs by getting their orders to them on or ahead of time. We love to beat lead times! We have the strongest planning department we’ve ever had – everyone is proactive and communication flows freely between us and the Customer Service department to ensure our customers have the best experience possible.”

After Work: “When I leave the office my family is my life. I’m married to Rob and we have two kids – Jacob who is 18 and will be leaving for college in the fall, and Kallie, 16, who just got her driver’s license! My kids are my everything to me – we love hanging with our two dogs, camping and 4-wheeling together. At night when I get home I do mom stuff – cook, clean, etc. Late at night I can’t resist reading my Merit emails – but when I’m home – being a wife and a mom is my priority.”

1500 Shipments Per Day. Delivery to over 100 Countries. 20 Languages Spoken.

It’s not FedEx. It’s not UPS. It’s not TNT. It’s a global medical device company: Merit Medical. Today Merit Medical opened its recently expanded Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) distribution center and corporate office in Maastricht, the Netherlands. This advanced distribution center and the service it provides hospitals, physicians, and nurses in more than 100 countries throughout the EMEA region shows Merit Medical continuing its quest to be the most customer-focused company in healthcare.

Merit Medical’s ConcierGE® Guiding Catheter Now Available in Radial-Specific Shapes

Minimizing the number of catheter exchanges is important for transradial interventions in order to reduce the likelihood of spasm.1 Using catheters with radial-specific shapes may help radial operators minimize the number of catheter exchanges that can result in spasm.1

To meet the needs of radial diagnostic and interventional procedures, Merit Medical now offers the Ultimate 1 shape in both diagnostic catheters and ConcierGE® Guiding Excellence catheters with radial-specific shapes.

ConcierGE has approximately 30% more kink resistance2 and better torque response3 than the leading guiding catheter brands.

Cardiologists will now have the ability to match their guiding catheter to the shape of their diagnostic catheters, helping to reduce the need for multiple catheter exchanges.

Merit’s Performa Ultimate™ diagnostic cardiology catheters include four radial–specific shapes including the Ultimate shape, which can be used in both right and left coronary arteries using a single catheter.

ConcierGE and Performa Ultimate–more shapes give radialists more options for successful access.

Guido Sanduilli
Marketing Director
Cardiovascular Division

1 Kwan et al,
2 Data on File. Test results are based on 6F guide catheter comparison.
3 Data on file. At ½ hub rotation.

InQwire® Diagnostic Guide Wire Available in Baby J Configuration To Facilitate Transradial Intervention

Manipulating diagnostic guide wires through radial vasculature can sometimes be a little more complex than the pathways used during femoral access. To help facilitate radial navigation, Merit offers its InQwire diagnostic guide wire in both the standard J 3.0 mm curved tip as well as a 1.5 mm smaller ”baby” J tip configuration. The smaller, more closed J tip can help you navigate through the vasculature without selecting unwanted branches along the pathway.

The InQwire guide wire is precoated over the entire wire surface for smooth, consistent coverage that resists flaking. Smooth PTFE coating means less friction which improves trackability, lubricity, and durability. InQwire wires also have precise J-tip memory that ensures tip shape retention during utilization.

Catalog Code
J Tip
(0.89 mm)
1.5 mm
210 cm
(0.89 mm)
1.5 mm
210 cm
(0.89 mm)
3.0 mm
210 cm
(0.89 mm)
3.0 mm
220 cm
(0.89 mm)
1.5 mm
260 cm
(0.89 mm)
1.5 mm
260 cm
(0.89 mm)
3.0 mm
260 cm

Having the right tools for your radial procedure provides the efficiency and effectiveness that can help ensure a successful outcome for your patients. Contact your local Merit Sales Representative to learn more about InQwire for radial and our extensive line of products for radial approach.

Penny Goldman
Senior Product Manager

Merit Medical EP Group Announces Launch of HeartSpan® Steerable Sheath Introducer

Merit Medical continues to add to its extensive line of products for Electrophysiology. The HeartSpan Steerable Sheath Introducer offers control, coverage and comfort for Electrophysiologists when navigating cardiac chambers. The 8.5F HeartSpan Steerable Sheath Introducer’s braided construction provides kink resistance and curve durability. The distal tapered tip creates a smooth transition from the dilator to sheath introducer to reduce trauma to the atrial septum.


  • Softer, flexible tip
  • Smooth transition from dilator
  • Responsive curve deflection
  • Braided construction for kink resistance


  • Bidirectional (180-degree) deflection
  • Small curl (16.4 mm)
  • Medium curl (22.4 mm)
  • Large curl (36.0 mm)


  • Ergonomic shape
  • Improved grip size

The HeartSpan line of products also includes the HeartSpan® Fixed Curve Braided Transseptal Sheath with braided steel shaft for excellent torqueability and the HeartSpan® Transseptal Needle designed to be exceptionally responsive with enhanced stiffness.

Our EP team is excited to introduce this new steerable sheath designed to help EPs extend their options.

Merit Offers Radial Internal Mammary Catheter for Navigating LIMA Grafts

Transradial cardiac catheterization in patients with previous coronary artery bypass graft surgery can be technically challenging.


Since the majority of CABG patients have a left internal mammary artery (LIMA) graft to the left anterior descending artery (LAD), many radial operators choose to perform catheterization procedures in CABG patients from a left radial approach using standard femoral diagnostic catheters. However, other operators have reported success with the right radial access to the LIMA. Right radial access for right radial LIMA angiography provides more comfortable access from the right side of the patient, reduces back strain, and the need to reach over the patient, especially patients who are obese.

For patients with LIMA grafts, Merit Medical now offers a Radial Internal Mammary catheter to facilitate navigation to the left internal mammary from the right transradial approach. The Merit Radial Internal Mammary catheter is available in 4F and 5F, 110 cm lengths. The Impress® material offers a highly torqueable shaft with a soft, tapered atraumatic tip.

Combining Merit’s broad offering of products for radial approach with your clinical expertise can help achieve the improved outcomes you expect from the radial approach including reduced complications, quicker ambulation, and increased patient comfort.

For more information about the Impress Radial Internal Mammary catheter and Merit’s growing portfolio of products for your radial procedures, visit the product page on

Tami Anderson
Senior Product Manager

Malagari Safety and Efficacy Study of HCC TACE with HepaSphere™ Microspheres 30-60µm

Malagari photo of doc

Dr. Katerina Malagari et al conducted a study of 45 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with the new 30-60 µm size HepaSphere Microspheres. The study found that “TACE with HepaSphere was well tolerated with an acceptable safety profile and no 30-day mortality.”1 The overall objective response from the study was “(CR + PR), including patients treated at all dosages of doxorubicin, was seen in 68.9% of cases.”1 The results were published in Cardiovascular Interventional Radiology in February 2014.

HepaSphere 30–60 µm is a new size of a loadable microsphere that has a dry caliber of 30–60 µm that expands to 166–242 (197 ± 31) µm in saline and 145–213 (148 ± 45) µm after loading with doxorubicin. HepaSphere Microspheres’ unique properties offer the following advantages:

Targeted:       Flow directed due to spherical shape.

Absorbing:     Rapidly absorbs aqueous solutions such as contrast media, saline, or reconstituted doxorubicin HCI.*

Conforming: Compresses in the vessel lumen, providing more surface contact with vessel intima.

Expanding:    Expands up to four times the stated dry diameter when hydrated.

HepaSphere Microspheres are indicated for use in embolisation of blood vessels with or without delivery of doxorubicin HCl for therapeutic or preoperative purposes in the following procedures: Embolisation of hepatocellular carcinoma and embolisation of metastases to the liver. For full prescribing information, please refer to the HepaSphere Microspheres Instructions for Use.

Antonio Rivera
Senior Product Manager
1 Malagari K, Pomoni M, Moschouris H, Kelekis A, et al. Chemoembolization of hepatocellular carcinoma with Hepasphere 30-60 . Safety and efficacy study. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2014 Feb;37:165-175.

HepaSphere Microspheres is a Class III Device, CE 0459, and manufactured for Merit Medical Systems, Inc. by Biosphere Medical, S.A., Parc des Nations-Paris Nord 2, 383 rue de la Belle Etoile, 95700 Roissy en France. HepaSphere Microspheres are not approved or available for sale in the United States.

Next Generation of the Merit Snares iPad® App Is Now Available

I am pleased to announce the availability of the next generation Merit Snares for iPad. This app is designed to help customers when selecting the appropriate EN Snare® or ONE Snare® product configuration for use in a desired vessel. The app also provides the technical product code specifications for reference and ordering purposes.

Interested in downloading Merit Snares for iPad? You can download it from the App Store via the following link:

Designed with accuracy and reliability in mind, the ONE Snare and the EN Snare Endovascular Snare Systems go hand-in-hand to provide physicians with both single loop and triple loop options to help meet clinically-challenging case that may arise.

Jesse Hansen
Director of Marketing

First Patients Enrolled in the STARRT Clinical Study

DFINE® Announces First Patients Enrolled in the STARRT Clinical Study on Spinal Tumor Ablation with the STAR Tumor Ablation System

Prospective multi-center trial enrolling patients in USA

San Jose, Calif. January 23, 2015 — DFINE, Inc.,announced today that the first two patients have been enrolled in the STARRT Clinical Trial at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane WA. The multi-center trial is the first prospective study to evaluate the treatment of painful metastatic lesions with STAR Targeted Radiofrequency Ablation (t-RFA) and Radiofrequency Targeted Vertebral Augmentation (RF-TVA) prior to or following radiation therapy.

The principal investigator for the study, Jack Jennings, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Spine and Musculoskeletal Intervention at Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, MO), commented, “The protocol for this study is designed to clarify t-RFA as part of the treatment algorithm for metastatic spinal tumors and is the result of the collaboration of a multi-disciplinary working group on metastatic spine disease.”

DFINE will enroll 64 patients presenting with painful metastatic spinal lesions at up to 20 centers in the United States. The trial will evaluate the degree and durability of the palliative effect of t-RFA and vertebral augmentation combined therapy. Patients that have either failed or refuse further radiation therapy, or have yet to receive radiation therapy are eligible to be enrolled. Patients will be evaluated through a six month follow up period. The primary outcome is reduction of their pain. Secondary outcomes being evaluated are changes in quality of life, reduction of pain medications and the time to achieve adequate pain relief. Tumor control will also be evaluated.

“We’ve had very promising results with targeted radiofrequency ablation (t-RFA) to ablate localized metastatic spine tumors and augment the fractured vertebrae that is often associated with the disease. This procedure allows me to give patients rapid pain relief that dramatically improves their quality of life,” said Dr. Jayson Brower, the principal investigator at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where the first two patients were treated.

Cancer is a major public health problem throughout the world, and when cancer is not found early, it can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. A metastatic spinal tumor is a growth of cells (mass) in or around the vertebra of the spine. Over five million Americans are living with cancer that was diagnosed in the last five years and more than 1.67 million new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed in the US in 2014 1 It is estimated that 30-40% of late-stage cancer patients will likely develop metastatic spinal tumors.2

“t-RFA and RF-TVA provide an innovative new treatment option for the many patients worldwide who suffer from the debilitating effects of metastatic spinal tumors,” said Greg Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of DFINE.

“As a company, we are committed to building a body of scientific evidence supporting the therapy and are excited to partner with several leading medical centers in the United States on this landmark trial.”

To learn more about the STARRT clinical trial, go to Clinical study ID # NCT02225223.

STAR™ Tumor Ablation System

Indications for Use

The STAR Tumor Ablation System is indicated for palliative treatment in spinal procedures by ablation of metastatic malignant lesions in a vertebral body.

Risks & Contraindications

Like all surgical procedures, radiofrequency ablation procedures using the STAR System involve risks, and some patients are not good candidates for the procedure. For detailed description of risks and contraindications, please review the product Instructions for Use.

Klass Doxorubicin Dose Escalation Study Examines Dose & Delivery for the Treatment of HCC

The purpose of Dr. Darren Klass, et al’s study — “The effect of doxorubicin loading on response and toxicity with drug-eluting embolization in resectable hepatocellular carcinoma: a dose escalation study” — was to investigate “the relationships between dose and delivery parameters as they pertain to toxicity and response in surgically resectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).”1  The study included 25 patients, randomly assigned and divided into 4 subgroups each receiving bland, 25 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg of doxorubicin-loaded HepaSphere™ Microspheres.

Klass and his colleagues published the following results:

  • 56% of patients demonstrated complete response according to EASL criteria as opposed to 0% according to RECIST (v1.0) criteria.
  • Residual tumor was identified in all groups (0 mg: 35%±28.5%; 25 mg: 42%±30.4%; 50 mg: 3.6%±3.3%; and 75 mg: 49.29%±32.6%).
  • No difference was noted between bland embolic and drug-loaded groups. Subset analysis did demonstrate a significantly increased degree of necrosis in the 50 mg-loaded group (p=0.018).
  • Strong correlation existed between arterial phase Computer Tomography EASL-based response and histopathology (r=0.81; p<0.0001).

The study concluded that “Histology correlates strongly with one-month post-procedural imaging and response optimized at 50 mg of loading per vial. Adverse events were a reflection of embolization, with no relationship between loading dose or administered dose of doxorubicin.”

Merit Medical’s HepaSphere Microspheres are indicated for use in embolization of blood vessels with or without delivery of doxorubicin HCI for therapeutic or preoperative for the embolization of hepatocellular carcinoma and embolization of metastases to the liver. For full prescribing information, please refer to the HepaSphere Microspheres Instructions for Use.

HepaSphere Microspheres offer targeted embolization that is flow directed due to their spherical shape, they rapidly absorb aqueous solutions such as contrast media, saline, or reconstituted doxorubicin HCI,* and compress in the vessel lumen, providing more surface contact with vessel intima. HepaSpheres expand up to four times the stated dry diameter when hydrated. For more information on HepaSphere Microspheres, go to the HepaSphere product page or contact us.

Antonio Rivera                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Senior Product Manager


1 Klass D, Owen D, Buczkowski A, Chung SW, Scudamore CH, Weiss AA, Yoshida EM, Ford EM, Ford JA, Ho S, Liu DM. The effect of doxorubicin loading on response and toxicity with drug-eluting embolization in resectable hepatoma: a dose escalation study. Anticancer Research. 2014 Jul;34(7):3597-3606.

HepaSphere Microspheres is a Class III Device, CE 0459, and manufactured for Merit Medical Systems, Inc. by Biosphere Medical, S.A., Parc des Nations-Paris Nord 2, 383 rue de la Belle Etoile, 95700 Roissy en France. HepaSphere Microspheres are not approved or available for sale in the United States.


Merit Medical To Exhibit Dialysis Product Line at American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology (ASDIN) in Orlando, February 13-15, 2015

Merit Medical is exhibiting at the 11th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology in Orlando, Florida to introduce attendees to its expanding line of Hemodialysis and Peritoneal Dialysis products. The Merit Medical dialysis product suite includes the following key products:

  • The CentrosFLO® Hemodialysis Catheter, invented by Dr. Stephen Ash, was shown in a recent retrospective study to have statistically greater patency after three months due to its self-centering, curved-tip catheter which is designed to reduce thrombosis and fibrin sheath formation.1

  • The ProGuide™ Hemodialysis Catheter has a step-tip with an appositional bump design intended to reduce arterial insufficiency by keeping the tip of the catheter from sucking up against the vessel wall. The ProGuide is well known as an exchange catheter due to its easy, over the wire placement capability.

  • The Flex-Neck® line of Peritoneal Dialysis Catheters allow for up to 35% higher flow rates than other catheters currently on the US market. The Flex-Neck Classic and ARC shapes are designed to accommodate various tunneling techniques and exit site options. Our unique Implantation Systems are designed to streamline your specific implantation technique.

  • The Merit Percutaneous Implantation Kit for peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter placement is designed to accommodate stylet or over-the-wire placement using ultrasound-guided access and fluoroscopy. To see how the kit is used, watch the PD Percutaneous Implantation Video.

Visit Merit Medical at Booth 207 to learn more about this broad line of products designed to enhance the practice of dialysis interventions and catheter placements.

Nathan Smith
Senior Product Manager
 Lynette Ruppel
Senior Product Manager

1Data on file

ONE Snare® Microsnare Sizes Approved for Sale in Europe

Merit Medical’s ONE Snare microsnare sizes are CE marked and available for sale in Europe. These new ONE Snare product configurations are available in loop diameters of 2 mm, 4 mm and 7 mm, with a 2.3F – 3F snare delivery catheter.

The ONE Snare suite of endovascular snares are now available in 15 kit configurations with 10 loop diameters ranging from 2 mm to 35 mm. These sizes complete the suite of ONE Snare product configurations and give physicians additional choices and options when foreign body manipulation or retrieval procedures arise. Designed with accuracy and reliability in mind, the ONE Snare and the EN Snare® Endovascular Snare Systems go hand-in-hand to provide physicians with both single-loop and triple-loop options to help meet any clinically-challenging case that may arise, because having options matters.

To learn more, visit the ONE Snare product webpage.