Cameron Piron, Synaptive Medical’s co-founder and president, was interviewed on the future of optics in the medical device and technology industry by Tim Hayes for Optics.org’s article, “Optical point-of-care imaging makes its impact in neurosurgery and beyond,” published March 7, 2018.
The interview followed Piron’s keynote at SPIE Medical Imaging in Houston, which discussed, “the changing dynamics of the industry, and the expanding use of optical imaging to gather quantitative data at specific points in a patient’s care cycle.”
“The size of the market for optics in medical imaging dwarfs that for MRI, computed tomography, or ultrasound,” Piron told Hayes. “Optical techniques are not always considered to be the backbone of imaging in medical care, but they are.”
Here’s a longer excerpt:
Synaptive Medical platforms include Modus V, a robotic digital microscope with hands-free automation for spine and brain surgeons, and BrightMatter, a suite of connected devices incorporating digital microscopy and data delivery to help neurosurgeons visualize a patient’s brain during procedures.
Piron explained that strong synergies between the demands of surgeons and the advances being made in non-medical imaging have played a role in Synaptive Medical’s development of these systems, and that the same synergies will boost future progress in point-of-care imaging systems generally.
“Medical imaging has suffered from a slowness to exploit advances in imaging after they have proven instrumental elsewhere. But we have the opportunity to take elements of imaging technology from areas like defense and advanced manufacturing, and apply them to surgical techniques where the benefits will be readily apparent,” he commented to Optics.org.
In an example of the kind of benefit Piron describes, his company collaborated with Canadian Space Agency contractor MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to create an automated robotic arm that tracks the movement of a surgeon’s tools during brain and spinal surgeries, a new use for robotic technology originally developed by MDA for the International Space Station.
The film industry is another sphere where significant recent improvements in image quality and color calibration, like the ones under development for the IMAX format, could now be valuable in surgical applications.
“It’s important that surgeons have a platform that can receive data from multiple sources — whether from optics, or MRI, or CT — to facilitate better clinical decisions,” Piron noted. “One focus of our efforts is creating the data sources themselves and improving the quality of the information they deliver, through better resolution or color imaging, while a second goal is to develop new architectures and infrastructures able to deliver the data to surgeons.”
Some of those data sources may be relatively new to brain surgeons, but already familiar to clinicians elsewhere. OCT and Raman spectroscopy both have established roles in sectors such as ophthalmology or pharmaceutical quality control, but have not translated far into neuroscience, the area where Piron’s company is now bringing them both to bear.
Synaptive Medical’s founders originally worked together at Sentinelle Medical, a company focused on the use of MRI for breast and prostate imaging, before they identified opportunities for the same skill-set to make an impact in neurosurgery by improving the quality of imaging and integrating it into the operating sequence. This was an aspect where progress had not been rapid, according to Piron, who commented that the surgical microscope first translated into clinical use 50 years ago but had then remained substantially unchanged since.
The complete article is posted on Optics.org.