It's not always about bells and whistles.

Sometimes the most useful medical devices are simple products developed in response to clinicians' needs. Such is the case with the Boost, a head-stabilizing device from US Endoscopy (Mentor, Ohio) designed to hold a patient's head still during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

It's not a high-tech device like some of the other tools used by gastroenterologists, but US Endoscopy says it has never found a bigger unmet need than the one the spongy Boost fills.

"Nothing has been built for this purpose," said Tamara Struk, a senior product manager at US Endoscopy.

Struk told Medical Device Daily that prior to the Boost becoming available in July, clinicians used rolled up towels, sheets, pillows, or some combination of those items to stabilize the patient's head during an ERCP a multiple-hour procedure that uses endoscopes that slide into the patient's body to determine problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts or pancreas. She called these methods of stabilizing the patient's head "suboptimal," because the "stability of the head" during an ERCP is "extremely important."

The company estimates that at least 500,000 ERCPs are performed each year. During the procedure, patients lay face down or on their sides. The procedure can discover gallstones, internal leaks or cancer, among other things, US Endoscopy said.

The Boost is made of polyether polyurethane, is designed for the "vast majority" of head sizes and should hold its shape for four hours, according to the company. The hole keeps there from being constant pressure on the ear. One of the challenges in designing the device was creating a cushion that could support patients' heads for the length of a procedure.

US Endoscopy officially launched the Boost in July, following a limited release of the product to get customer feedback. "Our feedback has been positive, particularly from nurses and anesthesiologists ... the people who typically monitor the patients [during the ERCP] are the nurse or anesthesiologist," Struk said.

The biggest challenge US Endoscopy encountered while developing the Boost, Struk said, was coming up with a product that would fit most head sizes.

"Obviously there are a variety of sizes of people in the hospital and a variety of sizes of heads," Struk said. Ultimately what the company came up with, she said, is what they consider a "one size fits most" device.

Struk said the company spent about a year and a half developing the Boost.

"US Endoscopy really is a company that's founded on looking at different customer needs out in the market place and delivering on those needs ... we really like to get ideas directly from physicians, nurses and technicians and be able to meet those needs," Struk told MDD.

US Endoscopy, a private company, also makes other accessories for the GI endoscopy market, including retrieval devices.

Amanda Pedersen, 229-471-4212;