Brain surgeons and airline pilots have much in common. Both do their jobs better if they can simulate an operation or a flight in advance. And both need maps to guide them as well as systems to warn them of trouble ahead and to track their every move.
Simulators, flight plans, radar and black boxes have long fulfilled those functions for pilots. Neurosurgeons now have similar capabilities thanks to the imaging and robotic positioning technology developed by Synaptive Medical of Toronto.
Synaptive’s software brings together the various complex stages of brain surgery that up to now have been fragmented in separate procedures with little connection between them.
Although most of Synaptive’s 250 employees work in Canada, all its revenues have so far come from exports. In the two years since its first sale, Synaptive has sold its technology to leading hospitals in Buffalo, Denver, Detroit, Fairfax (Virginia) and Milwaukee, among others.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the system in April 2015 for use in U.S. operating rooms. But Jim Cloar, Synaptive’s chief commercial officer, says that complex regulatory requirements, which often vary from country to country, remain a key challenge.