When you imagine the medical intervention of the future, you quickly think of (robot) surgeons with VR glasses, infrared images that light up vessels in the body and lifelike 3D footage. That future is closer than we thought. With the digital head-mounted microscope (DHM), developed by i-Med Technology for the operating room, surgeons have relevant information available in an instant 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.
Extremely precise, microscopic procedures are increasingly becoming the order of the day in the operating room. Even today, surgeons use aids such as microscopes and magnifying glasses to perform these procedures correctly. However, these tools are limited and cannot be integrated with new digital developments.
Now located on Brightland’s Maastricht Health Campus, i-Med Technology has developed a successor to these tools: a head-mounted digital microscope with razor-sharp 3D image quality, zoom function and a powerful LED lamp. A camera films the operating table. The images are then digitally projected into the surgeon’s eyes without delay. Spectators inside and outside the operating room can view screens in real time ‘through the surgeon’s eyes’ and add augmented reality layers in real time, such as MRI and CT scans. It is also possible to create 3D images for teaching and analysis.
One step forward
With this, i-Med is able to help the medical world a step forward. “Since surgeons are able 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 stop working to see CT or MRI images on a computer screen, which ensures that they can continue working concentrated. This reduces the risk of errors and complications. It also makes operations shorter in duration. ”
Not only surgeons and patients benefit from the digital magnifying glass. There is also an improvement in the quality of medical education. For example, DHM is used during anatomy classes at university hospitals in the Netherlands. “Maastricht University, Utrecht University and Radboudumc, among others, have now made use of our system,” says Johan van de Ven, CEO of i-Med. “Medical students see, through 3D video material, things they would not normally see. We get a lot of positive reactions. ”
USA and Japan
Four years ago, i-Med developed the first prototype of their product. The company has now taken 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 partially invested in the product,” says Heukelom. The ball is also starting to roll abroad. “We have sold copies for parties in the USA, Italy and Japan. We are very proud of that. ”
Dentists and surgical robots
I-Med not only crosses national borders, but also enters new markets. For example, the digital microscope can be made relatively easy to use for dentists and surgical robots. “There is a lot of synergy between these markets,” Van de Ven says. Take, for example, the application for dentists. The machinery, electronics, screens and cameras remain in a way the same. We can therefore help dentists in a relatively short time to make a digitization step. ” In addition, Eindhoven’s robot builders, Microsure, will soon be testing the system thoroughly on their surgical robots. We also have other promising contacts in Eindhoven and Germany. ”
Support from LIOF
LIOF, the regional development company for Limburg, supports innovative entrepreneurs from Limburg through financing and advice. Recently, the development company granted financing through a convertible loan from the Participant Fund to i-Med with the aim of eventually becoming a co-shareholder in the company and making the company more attractive to new investors.
“From LIOF, we focus on a number of important transitions, including healthcare,” explains Jeffrey Lutje Spelberg, Investment Manager at LIOF. “We anticipate that i-Med will help the medical world make great strides. The startup managed to sell copies of their product to hospitals in corona times. This is especially so when many hospitals were closed during that period, and medical companies “I-Med did not do that, and it sent a very positive signal.”
The broad deployability of DHM in the neighboring markets also means that the start-up has a great chance of success, Lutje Spelberg adds. “Surgeons can do their job better, and soon we will also see the product in dental practice. Because of that versatility, I have full confidence that it will be a healthy business.”
work to do
In the near future, i-Med will collaborate with partners to make improvements to DHM. “Last week we presented our product at a major cardiovascular trade fair (EVC) here in Maastricht, where about 90 surgeons and surgeons and medical students were able to test DHM to a large extent. We have gathered all the feedback and have come to the conclusion that “The system, for example, could be a little easier to prevent symptoms of fatigue. We will do everything we can to make it happen,” says Van de Ven.
In addition, the system is further optimized for use in dental practice. Heukelom: “It is especially important to prevent back and neck disorders. Dentists need to be able to sit upright and still have a good look into the mouths of their patients. That means we want to adjust the viewing angle of the microscope. “
“In short: there is still a lot of work to be done,” Van de Ven concludes. “We are therefore looking for new, talented employees to join our team, and the investment that LIOF has made also enables us to do this.”