Technology advances in optics, mechatronics, computer systems and automation driven by growth in non-medical sectors provide the foundation for innovative surgical devices.
However, as the growing cost of healthcare constrains hospitals budgets, new clinical systems must also address stringent cost-effectiveness criteria by: improving surgical outcome and patient safety; streamlining workflows to optimise procedure duration and turnover; minimising downtime and postoperative recovery and decreasing the need for staff.
For instance, the CMOS camera technology made affordable by the mobile phone industry has propelled the development of novel endoscopes which are smaller, cheaper, flexible and ultimately disposable. Further cost and size reduction will allow direct visualisation to extend to a variety of other clinical procedures.
Similarly, advances in digital image processing and consumer display electronics have lowered the bar to 3D HD imaging. This applies not just for real-time intra-operative visualisation but also for fusion of pre-operative imaging and intra-operative information, going beyond simple visualisation to include electrical, optical and magnetic sensing, allowing real-time enhanced surgical guidance.
The combination of available visualisation and sensing technologies with fast control systems and accurate micro-mechanisms also fuels the growth of robotic-assisted surgery. While a few of these systems are currently available or in pre-commercial stages, the next generation of products will compete on enhanced capabilities and value-effectiveness.