The University of Twente (UT) and Siemens Healthineers are launching a research and education programme that will improve the accuracy and success-rate of image and robot-guided operations by medical professionals. Smarter and more precise surgical techniques will allow more patients to be treated and with more success, and will also increase the efficiency and quality of patient care.
Remke Burie, managing director of the Technical Medical (TechMed) Centre (UT) explains: ‘Our simulation centre is unique because we combine the development of new techniques with training for medical professionals. The TechMed Centre is an incubator where physicians, technical physicians and engineers can work together on the latest surgical and treatment techniques.’
According to Kees Smaling, CEO of Siemens Healthineers Netherlands, the cooperation in the TechMed Centre is a crucial next step after many years of successful cooperation with the UT. ‘The unique research and education programme will generate new insights and enable us to collaborate on developments that really benefit the patient. The time when new medical technologies were developed per discipline and in isolation are behind us. Moreover, the Centre’s TechMed Academy provides a unique learning environment for medical professionals, allowing them to practice and learn from their mistakes using augmented and virtual reality simulations. So that they can apply the new techniques in a hospital safely.’
New techniques are emerging including precise and personalized minimally-invasive procedures. Examples include localized chemotherapy for cancer patients and ablation therapies in oncology and cardiology. Patients could benefit greatly from a high-tech approach. The treatment is faster, which means that patients are under anaesthesia for a shorter period of time, while smaller incisions are made. This in turn contributes to faster recovery and fewer complications.
Fast 3D imaging
Siemens Healthineers supplied the University of Twente with a robot-guided imaging system for the training operating room (OR). This system enables fast 3D imaging of the patient from any desired position. The images from the system can be directly linked to surgical robots (that are being developed) and also be used to guide devices like catheters or capsules to the right location in the patient’s body.
In addition to the robot-guided imaging system, an MRI scanner will also be installed in the Technical Medical Centre. The aim of the research is to investigate how MRI can play a greater role in certain minimally-invasive procedures. The current imaging systems that are often used in ORs are still based on X-ray technology. The disadvantage of this is that tendons, muscles and nerves my be inadequately described, or not at all. MRI technology has the potential to resolve this limitation.
However, more research is needed to analyse how such a complex technique can be combined with new guided (and partly robotic) instruments for use in medical interventions. To this end, the programme is also seeking cooperation with companies that already have expertise in this field. In addition to the robot-guided imaging system and the MRI, the Technical Medical Centre also uses various advanced simulators for training purposes. Educational research will also be conducted into the most appropriate trainingmethods and the effective ways to deploy all these new simulation technologies.
About the TechMed Centre
The Technical Medical Centre (TechMed Centre) is a leading innovation hub. The TechMed Centre contributes to improving healthcare through personalized technology using a combination of excellent research and education and state-of-the-art facilities. Over the past 15 years, the TechMed Centre has acquired a unique and international position by offering highly innovative educational programmes such as Technical Medicine, Biomedical Technology and Health Sciences and by conducting translational research in fields ranging from medical imaging, robotics, bioengineering and medical physiology to health & wellbeing technology. The TechMed Centre cooperates closely with various companies and medical institutions to achieve its goals. You can find more information at www.utwente.nl/en/techmed/.
This communication was first published 4 June 2019 by the University of Twente.