For decades, as cardiac diagnosis and therapies advanced using X-rays and other imaging, a phenomenon called scatter radiation loomed as a threat to specialists treating a patient.
During an X-ray, radiation reflects off a patient and scatters to anyone else in the room. Now a Twin Cities medtech startup, Egg Medical Inc., is building up sales of a new product that’s overlaid on an exam table to shield health care professionals from scatter radiation.
“Up until now there hasn’t been a good solution for the problem,” said Bob Wilson, CEO of the Arden Hills-based company. Typically, doctors and radiologists wear heavy lead aprons to protect themselves from radiation.
Called an EggNest, the company’s product is a carbon-fiber shell goes around the mattress and below and above the table. The shields are a composite of polymer and other materials.
The company’s testing of the product shows a 91% reduction in scatter radiation. Wilson said that it’s meant to protect everyone in the room without interrupting the work flow.
Egg Medical was started in 2014 by two interventional cardiologists and one engineer. Wilson, one of the cardiologists, has two previous startups under his belt: Eden Prairie-based Acist Medical Systems and Maple Grove-based HLT Medical. Both of those companies were acquired by Bracco Group, based in Italy.
Earlier this month, Egg Medical secured $13 million in financing led by TVM Capital Life Science, a transatlantic venture capital firm. The TVM Capital Group is based in Munich; TVM Capital Life Science operates out of Montreal. Wilson said that the company has now raised approximately $17 million since its inception.
Luc Marengère, managing partner of TVM Capital Life Science, said while this marks the company’s first investment in Minnesota, the firm already has local connections.
“We have a number of high-profile investors in our fund that are based in Minneapolis,” said Marengère, who is one of two TVM leaders now joining the Egg Medical board of directors.
“The product is super differentiated. It’s going to make a real difference for the health care professionals that work in cath labs,” said Marengère.
Wilson said that the company and TVM unexpectedly came together through a “shirt-tail connection” which turned out to be a good fit for both. “A lot of things are chance in life,” said Wilson.
The EggNest system lists for $59,000, and there are discounts for volume purchases, Wilson said. The company has sold and installed 35 EggNest systems.
Egg Medical first started trying to sell the product in late 2019, just before the pandemic hit. Executives shifted to virtual sales pitches after coronavirus spread, the economy went into lockdown and hospitals eliminated most non-emergency procedures.
“We probably did 100 Zoom demos,” said Wilson. Doctors and radiologists, he added, “weren’t doing cardiovascular procedures so everybody had a lot of time.”
Unlike most medtech companies, Egg Medical did not need FDA approval for its product.
Dr. Nicholas Burke, a local cardiologist, said that he started using an EggNest in one lab more than a year ago. Burke works with both Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis and the Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.
“We redid the lab out there [in Ridgeview] and I said, ‘I want the EggNest installed in the new lab’,” said Burke.
Burke had professional connections to Wilson through the University of Minnesota, where Wilson had long been a professor.
“The scientific studies that have been done demonstrate a dramatic decrease in radiation exposure for people who are working in the cath lab — the doctors, the techs and nurses,” said Burke. “That’s why I’m a fan.”