Halifax-based DMF Medical has received a Class II medical device license from Health Canada to sell its memsorb carbon dioxide filtration device, which has been created to improve safety for patients undergoing general anesthesia.

The company said in a statement the product is now on sale across Canada for use on a range of anasthesia machines.  

Company President David Roach, and Chief Medical Officer Michael Schmidt said they were grateful for the way the company’s clinical advocates have pursued device evaluations in the face of the significant challenges posed by COVID-19.  

“The cooperation and collaboration with sites across the country, in particular London Health Sciences Centre in London, ON, and Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont in Montreal, PQ, speak to the level of commitment the Canadian health-innovation community has for improving healthcare in anesthesia while focusing on reducing its impact to the environment," the colleagues said in a statement.

The memsorb product is designed to improve the process of removing carbon dioxide from the system that puts patients to sleep during operations by using membrane technology rather than a chemical reaction, company officials explained in previous interviews. 

In the traditional process, a patient inhales a vaporized anesthetic mixed with oxygen, and exhales a combination of oxygen, anesthetic, carbon dioxide and toxins. The mixture is passed through a chemical filter to strip out the toxins and CO2, and then fed back in to the stream of gases being delivered to the patient. Because anesthetics are expensive, the filtered exhalation is used again to get maximum use out of the anesthetic.

There are problems with this “anesthetic loop” because the chemical reaction used to remove CO2 can produce compounds that can be harmful to the patient, a spokesman said.

The process also releases CO2 and chemicals into the air, making the worldwide atmospheric impact equivalent to the production of 4.4 million tons of CO2 a year. Plus, the residue chemicals produce 115,000 cubic metres of solid waste annually which is expensive to dispose of. In most operating rooms, the chemical canisters must be replaced daily.