Your Institute develops endoscopic and navigation technologies. What innovations are there in this field?
Keeve: On the one hand, there is a technology marketed by the Scopis Company, which is a spin-off of our Institute. It combines both types of navigation, optical and electromagnetic. In addition, it uses a technology that measures the distance from the endoscope to the tissue. Corresponding centimeter data is being displayed in the endoscopic image. In doing so, instruments can be more safely navigated to the destination.
Secondly, for the Trumpf Medizinsysteme GmbH we are evaluating a voice-controlled endoscope holder that can be mounted to the operating table. Voice control enables the surgeon to move the endoscope by himself, so he does not depend on the help of an assistant, who might possibly translate instructions differently from what the surgeon intended. What is more, compared to human beings, the holding device operates without shaking.
What direction will computer-assisted surgery take in the future?
Keeve: As engineers in medical technology, the usability of the equipment demands a lot of our attention. It is not easy for a physician to master all high tech equipment in today’s operating rooms. The endoscopy holder is a good example of a solution: the surgeon can achieve something with simple speech input for which he or she otherwise needs the help of another person. This person in turn requires space in the operating room, which could be used for other things. Voice-controlled mechanics therefore saves room next to the patient and reduces processes in the operating room.
Overall, we need to develop technologies in the operating room to operate better and not stand in the way of a surgery’s success.