4 Advancements in Surgical Technology Improving Patient Care

Surgery is a field rife with innovation.

New techniques, new technology, plus new ways of using existing techniques or technology…there’s always something to report in regard to advancements in surgical technology.

As optical imaging, robotics, and other high-tech advances contribute to greater precision and less invasive surgical techniques, the field is optimized to improve surgical outcomes by a significant measure in the near future.

Here are just a few of the top innovations in surgery currently in use around the country.

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4 Cutting-Edge Advancements In Surgical Technology

1. MARVEL for brain surgery

A six-year collaboration between NASA and the Skull Base Institute has resulted in the creation of a 3-D high definition endoscope with a rotating tip that they’ve dubbed MARVEL (Multi-Angle Rear-Viewing Endoscopic tool).

The tiny camera will allow surgeons to get a very precise 3-D view of a tumor when performing a resection.

Ultimately, the creators of the tool hope it will enable surgeons to perform very intricate, yet minimally invasive brain surgery--which could result in fewer complications and a faster recovery time for patients.

2. Smart surgical glasses

Smart glasses have been around since 2012, but continue to be refined in how they can be applied in the operating room. They represent a “mixed reality method,” and inventors hope they will eventually become a fixture in orthopedic surgery and other types of surgeries.

Smart glasses are essentially small computers, which include a head-mounted monitor and video camera, and can be connected to the internet or other computers. They can be used for remote observation of surgeries by video streaming, and to provide important images to surgeons during a procedure.

Many early adopters of this technology have been very pleased, including Paul Szotek, MD, founder and medical director of Indiana Hernia Center.

Szotek has used AMA Xpert Eye in the operating room to collaborate with other surgeons, live stream video to training classrooms, and record procedures. Remote experts and trainees can record from his point of view, push diagrams and charts to his eye, and annotate that material in real-time.

3. Surgical robots with artificial intelligence

Believe it or not, the da Vinci surgical robot was invented more than 15 years ago. Since that time, inventors have continued to develop surgical robots that can perform increasingly precise movements.

In this “second wave” of surgical robots, experts suggest that we will see more influence of artificial intelligence (AI), where these new robots are able to collect and analyze data.

“Robotics and AI are removing the human constraints and physical limitations on surgery and placement of innovative medicines,” said Ajan Reginald, CEO of Celixir, in a July 2017 interview with Fortune.

“With ultra-high resolution robotic assistance, we can now consider the optimal site to place stem cells in the eye, brain, heart to drive regeneration,” he continued. “Or where to place cellular anti-cancer therapies to kill cancers.”

He went on to explain that AI removes the limitations inherent in a human being driving a robotic arm while conceding that robots will always need real surgeons at the helm to make sound decisions.

4. Remote robotics

While robotics and telemedicine are nothing new, remote surgery is taking these concepts a few steps further.

Surgeons may soon be employing the use of robots to assist with surgery from a remote location, which could help expand surgery options for patients living in remote or underserved areas.

As an example, The Mayo Clinic is embarking upon a clinical study to examine the possibilities of robot-assisted percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), a process dubbed “telestenting.”

Efforts To Improve Surgical Outcomes And Reduce Post-Operative Complications

Surgical innovation isn’t just about finding the next big exciting technique. It can also involve new ways of preventing surgery readmissions or reducing surgical complications.

A few current examples include:

  • Duke Health researchers are trying to determine the effectiveness of assessments and risk-reduction strategies to decreasing postoperative complications among older adults, who tend to have higher rates of surgical complications than younger adults. The program, entitled Perioperative Optimization of Senior Health, or POSH, is described in a new issue of JAMA Surgery.
  • The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is building upon a 2016 summit on advancements in cardiovascular care. The 2017 Roadmap for Innovation explained the importance of supporting research into innovation and measuring the impact for cardiovascular surgery and related disciplines.

So, you want to keep up with the latest in the field? Don’t blink.

The innovations and advancements in surgical technology and post-surgical care are sure to continue at a record pace.

WANT TO KEEP UP with the latest career opportunities? Connect with a locum tenens surgery recruiter by completing the form on the right of this page. 

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