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Israeli gynecologist builds a better IUD

Dr. Ilan Baram says Ballerine is the first contraceptive device to address quality-of-life problems caused by rigid T-shaped IUDs.

Ballerine, a hormone-free soft intrauterine device with a novel round shape. Photo courtesy of OCON Medical

A contraceptive device from Israel called Ballerine has refined the intrauterine device (IUD) for greater comfort and safety, according to its developer. Made by OCON Medical in Modi’in, Ballerine is the first product based on the trademarked IUB (Intra Uterine Ball) invented by senior gynecologist Dr. Ilan Baram, medical director of the company.

“The Ballerine is the first contraceptive device designed to address a quality-of-life issue before the issue of effectiveness,” Baram tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s common knowledge that inserting a copper device into the uterus will effectively prevent pregnancy but nobody seemed to take into consideration how women feel about it.”

The device, which had a proof of concept and safety study in Hungary, has been on the market since 2014 and is sold in Israel and 19 countries across Europe and Africa. It is spherical, soft and has no sharp edges, unlike the current rigid T-shaped devices.

Until recently, people looked at the uterus as a flat triangle and a T-shaped IUD based on that notion would nicely fit. But the uterus really is a cavity that is viable and contracts constantly.

“Until recently, people looked at the uterus as a flat triangle and a T-shaped IUD based on that notion would nicely fit. But the uterus really is a cavity that is viable and contracts constantly. Once you insert a T-shaped device it will probably end up mal-positioned and that is why 60 to 70 percent of women using an IUD have increased pain and bleeding,” Baram explains.

“This is the heart of the reason we needed a new kind of device.”

In the summer of 2008, Baram had a serendipitous idea that ball-shaped IUDs would greatly reduce the likelihood of mal-positioning. But how could such a shape pass through the very narrow cervical canal?

The solution was Nitinol, a metal alloy with unique elastic properties that is used in medical implants such as coronary stents. Nitinol can be “programmed” to retain a certain shape.

“When OCON was established in early 2011 we chose Nitinol for the IUB’s frame core and went on to design the gentlest shape to minimize risks and endometrial irritation,” says Baram, who together with CEO Ariel Weinstein gathered an international board of medical advisers for OCON.

“Since then we have developed additional Ballerine variants to fit different physiologies.”

The made-in-Israel device features several copper “pearls” strung on a flexible Nitinol wire frame. The frame is pre-loaded in a linear form inside the insertion tube; when it’s released in the uterus it coils into a three-dimensional sphere.

 This article has been republished with permission by www.israel21c.org. Click here to continue reading. 

 

 

Abigail Klein Leichman | Israel21C

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