With this digital magnifier, surgeons and dentists can do their jobs even more accurately

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30 August 2022

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Praktijkverhalen

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About i-Med Technology

i-Med Technology, based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, has developed a successor to tools such as microscopes and magnifying glasses: A digital microscope to be worn on the head with razor-sharp 3D image quality, zoom function and a powerful LED lamp. A camera films the operating table. The images are then projected digitally into the surgeon's eyes without delay. Bystanders inside and outside the OR can watch on screens in real time "through the surgeon's eyes," and add augmented reality layers in real time, such as MRI and CT scans. Taking 3D images is also possible for education and analysis.

Anyone who imagines medical procedures of the future is quick to think of (robotic) surgeons wearing VR goggles, infrared images that light up vessels in the body and lifelike 3D images. That future is closer than imagined. With the Digital Head Mounted Microscope (DHM) developed by i-Med Technology for use in the operating room, surgeons have relevant information at their fingertips at a glance and can work even more accurately. "We are growing fast and are now also entering the dental market," says Jaap Heukelom, co-founder of i-Med.

Highly precise, microscopic procedures are increasingly the order of the day in the operating room. Even today, surgeons use tools such as microscopes and magnifying glasses to perform these procedures properly. However, these tools are limited and cannot be integrated with new digital developments.

Now i-Med Technology, based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, has developed a successor to these tools: a digital microscope to be worn on the head with razor-sharp 3D image quality, zoom function and a powerful LED lamp. A camera films the operating table. The images are then projected digitally into the eyes of the surgeon without delay. Bystanders inside and outside the OR can watch on screens in real time "through the surgeon's eyes," and add augmented reality layers in real time, such as MRI and CT scans. Taking 3D images is also possible for education and analysis.

A step forward

With this, i-Med knows how to take the medical world a step forward. "Because surgeons are enabled to add high-resolution images, all relevant information is available to her or him at a glance," Heukelom explains. "It is no longer necessary to put down work to view CT or MRI images on a computer screen, which ensures that they can continue to work with concentration. This reduces the risk of errors and complications. Moreover, it makes operations shorter in duration." 

Not only surgeons and patients benefit from the digital magnifier. An improvement in the quality of medical education is also taking place. For example, the DHM is being used during anatomy classes at university hospitals in the Netherlands. "Among others, Maastricht University, Utrecht University and the Radboudumc have meanwhile used our system," says Johan van de Ven, CEO of i-Med. "Medicine students see, through 3D video material, things they would not normally see. We are getting a lot of positive feedback."

The US and Japan

Four years ago, i-Med developed the first prototype of their product. Since then, the company has made great strides and the fourth generation of the system is ready. The first systems have already been sold to various organizations at home and abroad. "Among others, Maastricht University is involved and has co-invested in the product," says Heukelom. The ball is also starting to roll abroad. "We have sold copies to parties in the United States, Italy and Japan. We are enormously proud of that."

Dentists and surgical robots

I-Med is not only crossing national borders, but also tapping into new markets. For example, the digital microscope can be made relatively easy to apply to dentists and surgical robots. "There is a lot of synergy between these markets," says van de Ven. "Take for example the application for dentists. The machinery, the electronics, the displays and the cameras, they remain the same in a sense. We can therefore already help dentists in the relatively short term to make a digitization move." In addition, Eindhoven-based robot builders, Microsure, will soon be testing the system extensively on their surgical robots. We also have other promising contacts in Eindhoven and Germany."

Work to be done

Next time, i-Med will work with partners to make improvements to the DHM. "Last week we presented our product at a large cardiovascular exhibition (EVC) here in Maastricht, about 90 surgeons and surgical and medical students were then able to test the DHM extensively. We collected all the feedback and came to the conclusion that the system could, for example, be made a bit lighter, in order to prevent fatigue symptoms. We are going to do our utmost to make that happen," says Van de Ven;

In addition, the system will be further optimized for use in dental practices. Heukelom: "It is particularly important to prevent back and neck complaints. Dentists must be able to sit up straight and still be able to look inside their patients' mouths. This means that we will adjust the viewing angle of the microscope."

"In short: there is still plenty of work to be done," Van de Ven adds in conclusion. "We are therefore looking for new, talented employees to come and strengthen our team and the investment made by LIOF also enables us to do this."

i-Med Technology