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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Device protects healthcare providers  from exposure to COVID-19 during intubation

April 20, 2020


Contact: Susen Sawatzki

MUSE Communications

801-450-0387  Susen.sawatzki@gmail.com

Website: TTCmed.com


The Runnels Total Control Introducer™ guides breathing tube placement to improve patient care and outcomes 

[Salt Lake City, UT]  Through the Cords, a Salt Lake City-based company is stepping up production and distribution of its intubation device, the Runnels Total Control IntroducerTM (TCI), to meet the urgent need for first-attempt intubation success during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The TCI is uniquely positioned to have a large impact on intubation safety for both providers and patients.

The Runnels TCI is a novel articulating intubating stylet designed to increase first-pass breathing tube placement during video laryngoscopy-assisted intubations. The critical benefit of using the TCI on each intubation is the distance it allows between the patient and the provider during intubation, while facilitating successful introduction of the breathing tube. This feature preserves the viability of the provider population and the health care system through this pandemic and beyond by keeping providers safe from contamination. The innovative and simple intubation tool is designed to reduce intubation complications and mitigates the provider’s exposure to infectious particles.

The flexible tip of the Runnels Total Control Introducer helps healthcare workers quickly and safely introduce the breathing tube into the trachea.

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, intubations were the third most common medical procedure in the U.S. with more than 30 million performed each year. More than half of failed intubation attempts were due to the inability to direct the endotracheal tube into the trachea, or because of inaccurate depth control. These complications result in compromised patient outcomes, 60 thousand attributable deaths, and an estimated cost of more than $5 billion in increased medical care needed because of first-pass  intubation failure.

A look at COVID-19 by the numbers:  According to the Health Affairs Blog, between 40 and 60 percent of, or 100 million Americans will be infected with COVID-19 over an estimated period of 6 to 18 months. Conservatively, some 4.5 million infected individuals will be critically ill and require intubation. This increase in intubations not only exposes the provider population to aerosolization of the virus and risk of infection, but also creates higher risks for intubation complications such as brain injury, cardiac arrest, and death to patients from failed intubation attempts.

Given the current resource-restricted healthcare system, swift, successful intubations result in better patient outcomes, less potential for provider exposure, and reduced stress on the already over-taxed providers. Universal use of the Runnels TCI resolves many of the pressing issues regarding intubation, and the preservation of the limited number of providers qualified to perform intubations.

Dr. Sean T. Runnels, anesthesiologist and associate professor of Anesthesia at the University of Utah founded Through the Cords, a device innovation and manufacturing company focused on next-generation airway tools for use with video laryngoscopes. The company currently manufactures and distributes three products, the Runnels TCI, the Runnels Intuitive Depth BougieTM (IDB), and the Runnels Intuitive Depth ExchangeTM Catheter (IDE). The devices are manufactured in Salt Lake City with all components sourced in the USA.


About the Total Control Introducer (TCI)

The Total Control Introducer (TCI) facilitates successful intubation through articulated guidance and mid-trachea depth accuracy. Features include: a) Articulating tip that facilitates precision control for easy maneuvering through the vocal cords and into the trachea; b) Flexible shaft that conforms to the upper airway; c) An intuitive depth control system designed to prevent injury in lower airways by keeping tip safely mid-trachea; d) Packaged for immediate use, detachable handle, no need to preload tube; e) Single use lowers the risk of contaminating other patients.


About Sean T. Runnels M.D.

Dr. Runnels is the founder and CEO of Through The Cords, and inventor of the three intubation devices produced and distributed by Through The Cords. He is an anesthesiologist and an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Utah. He was fellowship trained as a cardiothoracic anesthesiologist at Cambridge University in the UK and has extensive experience in difficult airway management in both high- and low-resource settings. In 2015, he returned to his practice at the University of Utah after a three-year sabbatical teaching in Africa. He spent one year in Guinea on the surgical hospital ship Africa Mercy, and two years as faculty at the National University of Rwanda. He is focused on decreasing the costs and simplifying difficult airway management with the long-term goal of increasing access to surgical care in developing countries.


About Through The Cords

Through The Cords was founded in 2017 by Dr. Sean T. Runnels. Focused on difficult airway management, he and his leadership team designed, manufacture and distribute three products that mitigate intubation and tube exchange errors. Dr. Runnels is CEO, Wil Roberge is COO, Steve Smith is President, with Corey Runnels, Troy D’Ambrosio and W. Jessen Dear as board members and key business advisors. The device was brought to first-stage market with A TCIP Grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Through the Cords was a graduate student case project at the Eccles School of Business Lassonde Institute.


Dr. Sean T. Runnels