Whereas robots may be seen as a direct threat when it comes to future employment by some, in the not-so-distant future robot assisted surgery is going to improve hundreds of lives. Even more, applying robotics in surgery is expected to lead to hundreds of extra jobs within a few years’ time. Brainport Eindhoven is a global key player when it comes to medical technology. Philips laid the basis for a strong med-tech cluster and the region is the epicentre of the microsurgery robot. Read how applying robotics for among others vascular surgery, eye-surgery and bone surgery is going to help surgeons do the impossible in a shorter period of time.
1. Microsure – World’s first super-microsurgery operation with ‘robotic hands’
Microsure, a company located in the city of Eindhoven and an Eindhoven University of Technology spin-off, developed a surgical robot arm with utmost precision skills meant for performing reconstructive surgery. The robot – controlled by a surgeon – is suited to perform reconstructive surgery that human hands are hardly capable of doing. The robot is five times as precise as a human hand. In September of this year plastic surgeons at Maastricht UMC+ have used the robotic device to surgically treat lymphedema in a patient. This is the world’s first super-microsurgical intervention with ‘robot hands’. The surgeons used the robotic device to suture vessels of 0.3 to 0.8 millimetre in the arm of the patient. The robot enhances the surgeon’s precision, making this type of procedure easier to perform. The patient is doing well and the surgeons are enthusiastic. More information can be found on the website of Microsure.
2. Preceyes – Eye surgery
Preceyes develops innovative robotic solutions to assist eye surgeons in performing the most demanding surgical tasks. In 2016 Preceyes enabled the world’s first robot-assisted eye surgery in Oxford. Preceyes enables the development of new, high-precision treatments and facilitates existing vitreoretinal surgery. The robot operates with an accuracy of more than 10 microns, which means it can do operations in the vein of a retina- which is the size of a human hair. Retinal surgeries are manually performed by a small group of highly specialized ophthalmologists. Preceyes assists in performing these surgeries, targeting to improve precision and safety. The Rotterdam Eye Hospital and the Rotterdam Ophthalmic Institute have bought the robot to evaluate it in a multi-year collaboration with Preceyes. The parties aim to start using the robot by the end of 2017.
Preceyes also is an Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) spin-off. Its technology promises to improve the delivery of existing ocular surgery as well as enable the development of new treatments such as high-precision drug delivery, assisting eye surgeons in performing the most demanding surgical tasks. More information: http://www.preceyes.nl.
3. RoBoSculpt- removing tumours from the inner ear
RoBoSculpt is a promising start-up in its research phase. The name is still a working title. An Eindhoven University PhD student is developing an image-guided bone removal robot. Together with the Radboud Medical Centre in Nijmegen, he is developing a new surgical robot to assist during precision bone removal procedures, for example to isolate and remove tumours in the skull. Currently, such an operation can take more than 6 hours before the surgeons have reached the tumour to be removed. It's an operation which often results in permanent hearing loss and, at the same time, is physically exhausting for the surgeon. These procedures have high risks of complications. By using a far more precise robot which can access and interpret (CT/MR) image data, the new start-up hopes to speed up bone removal procedures, which is also considerably less invasive with fewer complications. The same robot design may be able to assist in precision bone removal tasks in other areas of the human body, or can more accurately place cochlear implants - so that patients who were born deaf, or became deaf, can hear again.
1,000 new jobs in robot technology within ten years
Maarten Steinbuch, distinguished university professor at Eindhoven University of Technology expects robot technology to lead to 1,000 new jobs in the field of robot technology in Brainport Eindhoven. This implies a growth of 60 percent a year.
Do you want to work on the latest technologies in the medical field? Then Brainport Eindhoven is the place to be. Check out current vacancies or upload your profile to talentBOX and get matched with current and future vacancies in health technology in our region.