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  • Writer's picturei-Med Technology

Digital surgical loupe in MUMC+ education pilot

Based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, startup i-Med has secured a contribution of €10,000 from the ESZL (Economic Cooperation South Limburg)’s Kickstart Fund. i-Med is applying the subsidy toward the digital surgical loupe it has developed for a pilot using online education at the Maastricht teaching hospital.

Weighing less than 250 grams, the digital surgical loupe has two built-in HD cameras that surgeons and dentists wear on their heads while they perform surgery. This super smart device is connected to a portable minicomputer developed in collaboration with surgeons in Maastricht. The doctor sees a direct image of what he is doing on the screen of the “glasses” and can use the foot console at the same time to make previous scans and photos visible in 3D. The loupe has also been designed so that surgeons can keep their heads in an upright position. This is important as many doctors suffer from back and neck symptoms from having to bend over and lean forward all the time.

Enthusiastic response The digital surgical loupe has been widely tested at Maastricht UMC+ and other locations, and was presented at the beginning of this year at the world’s largest innovation fair, the CES in Las Vegas. Without exception, the responses were incredibly enthusiastic, says Jaap Heukelom, co-founder of i-Med. “This enthusiasm is also based on the new technology that offers the possibility to watch procedures in 3D and real time via a monitor installed in the operating room or in a classroom. This may of course be broadcast wirelessly, anywhere in the world, via the WiFi network. Currently, operations are filmed and recorded in 3D but not like this, where you really see what the surgeon sees, in 3D. It’s not only interesting for colleagues, it’s also very suitable for educational purposes.”

Pilot An educational pilot is currently underway at Maastricht UMC+, in conjunction with the FHML (Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences at UM) and the MUMC+ Maastricht Instruments and Science Vision departments. “The corona crisis brought the practical side of the Medicine program in Maastricht to a standstill. The loupe can offer a partial solution. When doctors perform procedures, students can watch and still get a feel for the practical aspects. Together with professors, students and the FHML board, we formed a team to test the loupe in practice. Prof. Nicole Bouvy (Innovative Surgical Techniques), Prof. Henk van Santbrink (Neurosurgeon) and Prof. Andreas Herrler (Head of the Anatomy Lab) played a major role in the preparations. Over 15 surgeons from several disciplines have already indicated their willingness to participate.”

Enthusiastic VCMS The Dutch Surgical Society for Medical Students (VCMS) is also enthusiastic about the pilot and is lending its cooperation. “The plans are ready and are being implemented now,” adds Dr. Gabrielle Tuijthof, who was involved in the development of this plan on behalf of Maastricht Instruments. “We will conduct pilots in June and July, and will be able to livestream the first procedures to the lecture halls and other locations in August.”

Kickstart The pilot involves an amount of over €24,000 to cover items such as the manufacturing costs of a single system, software, instructions, training and technical support. “This is a hefty sum for a startup,” Jaap Heukelom says, “so we called on the Kickstart Fund for help. “We are naturally happy with the grant and also that we can make a contribution during the pandemic. We can continue our work now. The practical pilot also means that we can show other medical centers and educational programs the benefits of the loupe.”

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