„Incisions and Insights“ – medtech engineers and medical practitioners in dialogue
Medtech engineers and medical practitioners in dialogue (Source: Michael Latz/ BioRegio STERN)
For the first time, the Stuttgart and Tübingen Inter-University Centre for Medical Technology (IZST) and the Verein zur Förderung der Biotechnologie und Medizintechnik e. V. (Society for the Promotion of Biotechnology and Medical Technology) in conjunction with BioRegio STERN Management GmbH (http://www.bioregio-stern.de/en) have hosted the „Incisions and Insights“ workshop. The event, which focused on pelvic surgery, adopted an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together the fields of gynaecology, urology and trauma and general surgery and offering medical technology specialists the opportunity to learn about medical needs in the field. With live streaming of surgery and practical exercises in the clinical anatomy (http://www.klinischeanatomie-tuebingen.de/) operating theatre, the workshop provided inspiration for developing and enhancing instruments and equipment. Everyone involved felt it was a resounding success and is set to be continued.
The „Incisions and Insights“ workshop clearly demonstrated to the approximately 80 participants attending the event and numerous medical practitioners and students linked via live stream how inspiring interdisciplinary collaboration can be between medical specialists from various disciplines and medical technology engineers. In front of an attentive audience, senior consultants and medical directors discussed operations that took place one floor below in the operating theatre of the Institute of Clinical Anatomy and Cell Analysis and were streamed live to the auditorium. That afternoon, heads of development from medtech companies from the region sat where otherwise students acquire basic anatomical knowledge and medical specialists pursue further training. And instead of spending time on anatomical explanations, the medical experts got down to business straight away. Prof. Arnulf Stenzl, Medical Director of Urology at the University Hospital of Tübingen and Director of IZST, Prof. Bernhard Hirt, Director of the Institute of Clinical Anatomy and Cell Analysis at the University of Tübingen, Prof. Alfred Königsrainer, Medical Director of General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery at the University Hospital of Tübingen, Prof. Christl Reisenauer, Senior Consultant in Urogynecology at the University Hospital of Tübingen and Prof. Ulrich Stöckle, Medical Director of Trauma and Reconstructive Surgery at the BG Trauma Hospital, Tübingen, used everyday, routine procedures in pelvic surgery to show where they see room for improvement in instruments and technologies. „Today we expect to see something from the developers,“ concluded Prof. Reisenauer.
Take laparoscopy, for example – in minimally invasive surgery, trocars provide access to the abdominal cavity. Endoscopes or gripping and cutting tools are inserted through the openings. The medtech engineers present quickly became aware of areas that could be improved. When using ultrasonic scissors, heat and smoke generation can impair vision, the inserted camera may smear and, although the inserted forceps may grasp the tissue, they may not hold onto it. The experienced surgeons had prepared a long wishlist, such as shorter scalpels and finer suture material, and in some cases had already formulated concrete ideas about further developments. Standardised titanium or steel plates are still currently used to stabilise pelvic fractures. In the future, surgeons would like to see individually shaped plates – preferably made within 24 hours using 3D printing – that are adapted precisely to the anatomy of the pelvis and can thus be fixed with optimum results. Lighting and visualisation remain an issue even if surgery is not performed endoscopically but openly. Here, surgeons are looking for monitors that do not force them to look away from the patient but are instead installed directly next to the operating area. They all agreed that the technology is available in principle – i.e. in the form of smart glasses – but needs to be implemented in medical technology even more effectively.
There was plenty to discuss when the medtech engineers and medical specialists were able to switch from the auditorium itself to the operating tables in Anatomy to continue their discussions with the surgeons. The participants had earlier selected a question of particular interest to them with a view to getting exclusive specific insight into the topics of visualisation, lighting, miniaturisation, haptic feedback, ergonomics, dissection, ablation and recovery, sterile working and osteosynthesis in small groups at the individual operating tables. For example, Thomas Schobert, head of development at EPflex Feinwerktechnik GmbH from Dettingen an der Erms, asked Dr. Bastian Amend, senior urology consultant, to show him the guide wires manufactured by his company in use on the „patient“. As an OEM company, he generally only has contact with the commissioning medtech company, not the surgeon using the product. When Dr. Amend explained to him where he saw room for improvement, he immediately responded with: „Tell us what it should look like and we´ll make it.“ Michael Neher, Research and Development Manager at Gomaringen-based BOWA-electronic GmbH, is also impressed with the workshop concept: „Trade fairs are primarily concerned with sales and marketing. Here, problems are presented completely openly.“ He is interested in particular in the challenges resulting from smoke generation and heat when using cutting tools and reveals: „We already have an idea about this.“
These two company representatives were not alone in supporting the organisers mission. „We see that the companies find out about medical needs here directly and thus get ideas on developing and enhancing instruments and equipment,“ explains Dr. Klaus Eichenberg, Managing Director of BioRegio STERN Management GmbH. „Incisions and Insights gives them an exclusive headstart and therefore provides them with competitive advantages.“ All participants are thus agreed that the interdisciplinary workshop must be developed further as a series of events with different specialist areas in each case.
About BioRegio STERN Management GmbH:
BioRegio STERN Management GmbH is a skill-sharing network, providing a help and ad-vice centre for founders of new businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers in the life sciences sector in the cities of Stuttgart, Tübingen, Esslingen and Reutlingen and the Stuttgart and Neckar-Alb regions. BioRegio STERN Management GmbH represents the interests of these market players in dealings with political circles, the media and associations and provides advice on grant applications and corporate financing. Key focal points include regenerative medicine, medical technology and the automation of biotechnology. Managing Director Dr. Klaus Eichenberg is a molecular and cell biologist and investment analyst.
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