The world of medicine has long understood the benefits of moving towards minimally or even non-invasive surgery. Here are five cutting-edge innovations in this field.
Smaller incisions result in fewer infections, improved healing times, lower pain levels and better outcomes. There are fewer complications, hospital stays are shorter—resulting in lower costs—and some procedures, where patients are too unwell to survive open surgery, become possible.
So what are some of the technologies currently employed or under development towards greater use of minimally or even non-invasive surgery? Here are five cutting-edge innovations:
1. MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound Technology
Insightec’s technology uses sound waves instead of a scalpel, guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to treat essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. Maurice R. Ferré MD, InSightec CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, said:
“For hundreds of years, surgeons have been using invasive surgery to remove diseased tissue.
Insightec is committed to changing the paradigm using sound waves to target and ablate tissue without incision or risk of infection, and offering the ability to go home the same day.”
According to Maurice R. Ferré, current essential tremor treatments include medication, which is often found to be ineffective. Invasive open surgery, known as deep brain stimulation (DBS) is also an option, but while effective, it can be dangerous. He continued:
“Focused ultrasound allows sound waves to pass safely through the skull with no incisions. During the treatment, under MRI guidance, these waves are precisely focused on the small spot in the brain considered to be responsible for causing tremors.
Affecting approximately 60 million people globally, essential tremor is the most common movement disorder in the world and is often misdiagnosed.
To date, more than 10,000 patients around the world have been treated with our technology.”
2. Robotic TBM Repair Surgery
Lazarro Medical’s LM Scaffold System allows the world’s first minimally invasive robotic tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) repair surgery. TMB is a degenerative disease that causes the complete—or almost complete—collapse of the airway as a result of the breakdown of trachea cartilage.
Reducing operating times by an estimated 50% and shortening patient recovery times from months to days, the process restores healthy breathing for previously untreatable patients.
Until now, the only option for those with the disease has been extremely risky and invasive open surgery and many patients are simply not healthy enough to be operated on.
The LM Scaffold System is an interlocking mesh that is sutured to the exterior trachea to reshape and strengthen it. An innovative dual-lumen endotracheal tube de-risks and protects the airway during the robotic procedure.
Current double-lumen tubes must be repeatedly deflated, moved, and reinflated to allow for delicate suturing. These actions create a significant risk of losing control of the airway, which can result in patient death.
3. Catheter-Based Technology for Heart Surgery
Capstan Medical has designed a system for treating mitral and tricuspid valve disease through a catheter while the heart is still beating.
Its cutting-edge solution combines advancements in surgical robotics with this catheter-based approach and provides a less invasive alternative to open heart surgery.
The procedure to repair and replace heart valves is significantly less risky than traditional open heart surgery and sees improved recovery times.
4. Water Vapor Therapy
The Rezum System replaces invasive prostate surgery and minimizes the risk of complications by using the natural energy in steam to remove excess tissue pressing on the urethra.
Developed by NxThera (now part of Boston Scientific), it was designed to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
The therapy can be performed in the urologist’s clinic or at an outpatient surgery facility and completed in one short appointment.
5. A Miniature Implant for Spinal Fusion
ZygoFix has developed a unique approach to spinal stabilization and fusion. Its miniature implant and zLOCK system are minimally invasive and use the spine’s natural anatomy for stability.
Due to its design and placement, the implant results in fewer incisions, no protrusion and less tissue agitation. Ofer Levy, CEO of ZygoFix, said:
“Spinal fusion is a procedure performed for stabilizing a spinal segment to address the spinal instability that results in back and radiating leg pain.
Our system is designed to provide the required stability by utilizing the spine’s natural bony bridge, inserting and locking the motion in the connecting posterior joints. Locking these joints provides a much simpler and less invasive alternative than the screw bridge used today.
The challenge with internal fixation of the facet joints is their changing geometry that can be difficult to place a rigid implant in.
The zLOCK implant is designed as a matrix of columns with bendable connecting elements, enabling them to bend and conform to the specific joint’s shape.”
“This simple design concept solves a big challenge.”