Umbilical Catheter Securement and Protection


Biodesign-originated Novonate developed its first technology within Stanford under the mentorship of James Wall. Umbilical catheterization is a lifeline for delivering medication and nutrition to critically-ill newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit.

The rate of bloodstream infections attributed to umbilical catheters is at least five times greater than that of adult central lines. Potential causes of this elevated infection rate include migration of bacteria after insertion, caretaker contact of catheter-stump interface, and movement of the catheter after insertion. The current standard of care for securing umbilical catheters consists only of a suture and non-sterile tape, which leads to variable securement and does not protect the catheter insertion site.

Novonate’s technology standardizes and simplifies the process of umbilical catheter securement, enhances protection of the umbilical stump, and minimizes potential catheter translation. The product is designed to reduce infection risk by protecting the catheter insertion site from bacteria and stabilizing the umbilical catheters. LifeBubble is currently in pilot trials in US neonatal intensive care units.

In the News

It Takes a University: How a Determined Team Developed a Technology to Protect Vulnerable Newborns

“Although only about 200,000 newborns need umbilical catheters every year [in the US], one in five acquires a costly and dangerous bloodstream infection,” said team member Eric Chehab, who was a graduate bioengineering student at the time. And this is despite the fact that the  nurses watch over these babies really carefully because they are so vulnerable.” 

Solving a Big Problem, Among Some of the Littlest Patients

“It took more than five years and the efforts of a lot of dedicated people to make this solution viable,” said Wall. “It is an incredibly important unmet need—literally saving premature babies. By utilizing a full range of university resources, including students, facilities and internal grants, we were able to develop the device to the point that it could attract funding—which would never have happened using traditional methods—and it is now on a path to reaching patients within the next year.”