With advancement in communication technologies, there have been further strides in how machines communicate with each other. Image guided surgical machines require the highest precision technologies and this is why they are just coming online at this very era when communication speeds are at their highest and 4G is paving way to higher bandwidths making it easier for machines to respond in lock-step with each other.
What Are Image Guided Surgical Systems?
Image guided surgical systems are a set of technologies that allow doctors to examine the inside of a human body in more precise details without the need for invasive surgeries. There are pills fitted with cameras that, once ingested, travel through the entire gastrointestinal cavity taking pictures for further analysis. This is just one example of how advanced image guided surgical systems have become. Other more complex examples are technologies that allow doctors to examine the nasal cavity, vertebrae structure and brain lobes of a patient; aspects that were considered too dangerous using invasive surgeries.
A more powerful example of image guided surgical machines is the 7D surgical system which utilizes radiation-free technology to examine and evaluate the entire body structure of a patient in a manner that is fast, easy to use and sterile. These factors were difficult to find in a single system until 7D came into play. Despite 7D’s emerging popularity, there have been other types of image guided surgical systems that employ a variety of technologies to achieve the same effect. These techniques allow surgeons to track images in the subject area and each technique has a unique value proposition.
The most common tracking techniques are:
- Electromagnetic; and
- Florescence image guided surgery.
How Image guided surgery works
Unlike traditional surgical processes, IGS requires the surgeon to first map the location of organs and plot a trajectory for the image guided technology. The patient undergoes a CT scan or in some cases, a combination of a CT scan and an MRI scan. Once a full CT scan or MRI scan is complete the images from these scans form the 3D image where the surgeon can now accurately locate the location of major organs, muscles and nerves. It is this 3D image that then gives the surgeon the best map to plot their surgery.
Optical or electromagnetic systems are the most recent technologies in image guided surgery. Previously, the patient had to receive general anesthesia in order to prevent head movements. This was very critical especially in cranial or nasal surgeries which require the patient’s head to be in a fixed position. The reliance on general anesthesia introduced other complications after surgery, and in some cases the patient’s lost certain mental faculties, albeit temporarily. However, with optical and electromagnetic systems any form of anesthesia can be used because the technologies allow for lateral head movements. The technologies accommodate for these movements thereby tracking remains stable despite any movements.
Future Adaptations of Image Guided Surgery
Unlike most other surgical instruments, image guided surgery improves with every alteration and improvement in the base technology. As 4G shift to higher frequencies, we can expect image guided surgery to also make marked improvements. Future improvements will affect latency, speed, accuracy, precision and overall design of the instruments themselves. There are research studies on the use of nanotechnologies in surgery which would make surgery even less invasive and more precise. Nano-technology involves the use of mechanized miniature robots, working at a cellular level, and these will be critical when put in the larger context of miniature surgeries that require smaller surgical instruments. A new branch of microscopic surgery will emerge and prove to be more cost-effective and precise than traditional surgical methods.
Currently, autonomous surgery is still at its infancy, however, with full adoption of image guided surgeries, skilled surgeons can work from anywhere in the world. Imagine a brain surgery where the patient merely gets admitted at their local hospital and a skilled neurosurgeon manipulates a machine from anywhere in the world, achieving similar results as if he were present with the patient. Such is the future of image guided surgery, because machines will continue to improve in their latency and due to economics, they will become cheaper. Such developments will allow hospitals to invest in machines and not in skilled staff, allowing the best surgeons to conduct these delicate operations from anywhere in the world.
Robot assisted surgery will not be the only improvement. As machines become slender, versatile and more precise, there will be a need for better imaging technologies. The use of CT and MRI scans have benefitted surgical processes for decades, and the advent of Virtual reality and Augmented reality will provide a new platform for image guided surgery to improve. The manner in which 3D images are presented to the surgeon will therefore improve quite greatly, shifting the use of computer screens to VR lenses or even holograms in the later future. There is therefore a lot of opportunity for improvements across the entire system.
The advent of radical imaging has already reduced the need for complicated surgeries. The use of image guided surgical systems has allowed surgeons to make better recommendations which in some cases reduced or even eliminated the need of surgery. After these images are received, better analysis occurs allowing the doctors and surgeons to gain a better understanding of the condition. Overall this is a great improvement on the delivery of medicine as doctors aim to reduce risk of further injury or even death. Complexities after surgeries are a reality in medical care and surgeons appreciate any move towards less invasive surgeries which create further avenues of reducing costs and risks.
In essence, everyone ranging from hospitals to patients benefits from further advancement in surgical systems and with this in mind, the improvement of image guided surgical system creates value across the board making it one of the most important advancements in modern medicine.