I-Med Technology proudly presents: the digital surgical loupe with interesting benefits
The men behind the company I-Med Technology BV (commonly referred to as I-Med) set up in mid-2018 are doing great. They will soon be introducing their first product, a digital medical loupe with many versatile and interesting benefits. The target group of surgeons are really eager to start working with it. Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus is a partner in the company and advises and assists entrepreneurs Vincent Graham and Jaap Heukelom. Various doctors, companies and organizations based at and around the Maastricht campus are also working on the product.
“This is exactly what we have in mind for our campus here in Maastricht: a good product combined with the bundling of strengths and sharing of knowledge. Stronger together, smarter together and working hard together.”
Jan Cobbenhagen, CEO of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus
The product: new, unique and extremely high quality
One important fact to know is that customized glasses fitted with a loupe are part of almost every surgeon’s standard equipment. It enlarges a surgeon’s work area, and makes higher precision work possible. I-Med is currently developing the successor to the standard loupe: a lightweight (less than 350 grams!), digital surgical loupe with excellent 3D image quality, a powerful LED lamp with the option of calling up pre-operative information in images, which also even makes 3D recording possible of the complete picture that the surgeon sees through the loupe.
So, how does it work?
Wireless contact is made with an external computer via a small, portable computer worn on a belt. This makes selected, numbered images and information sources available during the preparations for an operation. These include X-rays, scans, photos, blood parameters and so on, but it can also display incision lines, lymph and nerve pathways. The information desired at that particular moment is called up via voice recognition or a foot pedal and displayed next to or on the work surface. This gives the surgeon all the necessary information instantaneously in image form without having to disrupt the procedure. The digital loupe is equipped with two cameras to digitally record the surgery. You see everything the surgeon sees, as if you’re watching it all through their eyes. These recordings are incredibly interesting, particularly in an educational context.
Enthusiastic target group
Compared with the current standard of glasses with loupes, I-Med’s digital surgical loupe means a major leap into the future for the surgeons. Of additional interest is the fact that with the right software, you can expand and complete the digital surgical loupe’s applications to suit every specialization. The platform - the digital surgical loupe - will essentially remain the same, but the additional ideas and wishes are coming from the market, put forward by the surgeons who have to work with them. ENT doctors would like to be able to see deep into nasal cavities for example. Orthopedists like to use the 3D images of prosthetics as a guide for accurate fittings. Plastic surgeons hope that the nerve pathways can be “projected” onto the areas to be operated on using infrared light, making contrast fluid obsolete. Several surgeons at the Maastricht UMC+ are closely involved during this phase in completing the prototype. The first digital surgical loupes will be tested this fall in various operating rooms.
“I-Med really has something unique to offer; I haven’t seen anything like this, anywhere in the world” Prof. Dr. Michael Jacobs
His first contact with I-Med dates back about a year: “I read something about VR glasses and heard that there was a company here at the Campus that had a lot of experience in this area. I made contact with them and was intrigued by the combination of camera and loupe. This combination is perfect for training our students before they start operating on real patients. I knew that PS Medtech - another company based at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus - was also developing software that you could use to convert 2D scans to 3D images. ‘Is this also possible with a pair of glasses?’ I asked, and that’s how the ball got rolling.”
“The device is now being perfected further. One of the challenges was that they had to make it lighter and that’s what we’re working on now. Operations for replacing complete aortas often last six to seven hours. For this type of lengthy procedure, it needs to be comfortable; not too heavy and not too warm.”
“I am happy to continue to help because I want to further optimize it for use in my own field. But also definitely because it’s fun to get involved in something you happened upon by coincidence. And then you make that connection...I also see this as one of the challenges of working in an academic setting.”
Prof. Dr. Michael Jacobs is a cardiovascular surgeon in Maastricht and Aachen. He is the head of the Cardiovascular Center at Maastricht UMC+, and head of Vascular Surgery at the RWTH Uniklinik.
“The artificial intelligence and projection are what give it added value” Prof. Dr. Nicole Bouvy
“The most innovative added value of I-Med’s digital surgical loupe is that you can incorporate important, handy tools into the use of the glasses.This makes it a really practical instrument that is geared towards your specialization. Making surgery less invasive and reducing complications are particularly important to me, and in that regard, I definitely see opportunities for I-Med. One professional risk all surgeons face is damaging tissue that is very hard to see. I am really interested in the possibilities for building in separate filters that can make lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels and nerves visible in real-time, in infrared for example. Assuming this is a success, we surgeons will have a fantastic tool for reducing complications arising from surgical incisions.”
“These types of innovative developments fascinate me, and I enjoy following them closely. Something that in theory is appealing, won’t really get interesting unless it is able to meet the needs of future users. I enjoy brainstorming and providing input... I-Med makes it really easy to help because it’s all happening nearby. It’s easy to just drop in to talk about something.”
Prof. Dr. Nicole Bouvy is a professor of Innovative Surgical Techniques and surgeon at the Maastricht UMC+ where she is also the head of innovative surgery.
About Vincent and Jaap
Vincent Graham and Jaap Heukelom are the initiators of I-Med. Independent of one another and in different capacities, both have years of experience at and around the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus. They met a little over twelve years ago when Jaap was working at the LIOF as a business developer and Vincent came there seeking advice.
Vincent Graham has been active and successful in the fields of virtual reality and augmented reality for over 20 years now. He is the CEO/Development Manager/R&D Manager at I-Med. Jaap Heukelom is primarily responsible for the commercial and financial side. Over the past 25 years he has gained experience in the world of Philips and Thomson, display technology, camera technology and business development.
They didn’t exactly write the business plan for I-Med overnight; for a year and a half, they wrote and scrapped, debated and pondered. The decision was made around the end of 2017 and the start of 2018; they were going to do it!
I-Med was officially founded on July 1, 2018 as a joint venture between Vincent, Jaap, Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus BV and investor Quaest Invest BV. Jaap: “The fact that Brightlands and Quaest decided to join the venture was a major windfall for us. They obviously believe in our product as much as we do. We are grateful to have access to their networks. The specialists at the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus help us brainstorm in a variety of areas.” They are working hard to complete the product, at and around the Campus. Fellow campus resident PS-Medtech developed the Vesalius software necessary for converting 2D information to 3D images. Vincent: “It is still just the two of us at I-Med for now, but this approach makes it feel like teamwork. We are going to make it happen, together.” Jaap: “Did we mention that we are going to be expanding the team this year?”