When surgical procedures require high precision, robotics often comes into play to assist. The University Medical Center Freiburg is one of the first clinics in Europe to use a novel robot that performs cardiac catheterizations. "This unit can operate the catheter over which the examination is done, or wires over which stents and balloons are pushed. The operation is not done directly at the cardiac catheter table, but from outside in the control room," explains Prof. Constantin von zur Mühlen, Chief Medical Director of the Department of Cardiology and Angiology I, in a MEDICA-tradefair.com interview.
Von zur Mühlen maintains the robot is more precise than an expert human surgeon, which benefits the patient. The robot also saves the surgeon from having to wear a heavy radiation protection apron and subsequently reduces the radiation exposure from repeated use of imaging. Both present possible long-term health risks for surgeons.
These days, radiation in imaging is becoming less prevalent thanks to innovative approaches. At the end of 2020, the Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany and the University of California, Los Angeles introduced a new non-invasive medical imaging modality. It is designed to help visualize various structures including blood vessels in different colors and in real-time resolution.
In a MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, the head of the study Dr. Oliver Bruns explains: "Unlike other medical imaging technologies, our process is very simple. We highlight the tissue with infrared light and then image the resulting fluorescence. We often also inject a contrast agent intravenously to color specific structures we want to analyze."
Radiation-free imaging would be accessible to more patients, including small children as this modality would not add more stress to their tiny bodies. Bruns emphasizes that the technology – which is presently still being evaluated in a pilot study – offers more flexibility than previous techniques: "One promising field of application is intraoperative imaging, which improves surgical accuracy. "Point-of-care" applications at the bedside or in support of specialists are yet another conceivable option."