Meeting Report: International Society for Medical Innovation and Technology 2019


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The annual meeting of the international Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (iSMIT) took place in Heilbronn, Germany, October 10-11, 2019. Broad and forward-looking, this meeting focused on how the evolution of medical technologies affects healthcare. The meeting brought together a diverse group of more than 550 people – primarily surgeons – from 36 countries to share their experience with and ideas for new products and procedures.

The topics covered in the meeting included, but were not limited to:

  • Image-guided therapies and navigation
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Medical imaging, informatics, and artificial intelligence
  • New devices for minimally invasive surgery
  • Biomaterials and biomechanics
  • New robotic devices for surgery

There was also a strong emphasis on challenges for start-ups and commercialization, with dedicated sessions for sharing experiences and start-up pitches. An award was given for the most promising med-tech startup.

As Michael Friebe, PhD, from Magdeburg, Germany, so eloquently stated, “Innovation is the product of invention and market success.”

The current applications and future potential of focused ultrasound were highlighted in a number of sessions, including:

  • Richard M. Satava, MD, from the University of Washington, Seattle, presented “Surgery Beyond Robotics: Directed Energy for Non-invasive surgery,” which portrayed focused ultrasound as the next revolution in medical technology. He said that over the past decades, the size of instrumentation and incisions have been reduced, and now it is time to get rid of them altogether.
  • Prof. Andreas Melzer from Leipzig, Germany, gave his update on the “State of the Art and Future Developments of OR Technology.” He discussed various focused ultrasound platforms for different applications.
  • In the session on Minimally Invasive Oncologic Therapy on Prostate Cancer, the talk entitled “Pivotal Study of MRI-guided Transurethral Ultrasound Ablation (TULSA) in Men with Localized Prostate Cancer” was presented by Christoph Niemitz for the TULSA-PRO ablation clinical trial (TACT) consortium. This presentation triggered a lively discussion about focal therapy of prostate cancer, including how to interpret the results of Profound Medical’s TACT trial and other studies that came out recently.
  • In the neurosurgery session, Thomas Andreae, PhD, the Foundation’s Focused Ultrasound Ambassador in Europe gave a talk entitled, “Focused Ultrasound at the Tipping Point: A New Modality in Neurosurgery.” He provided an overview of recently completed and ongoing clinical studies using focused ultrasound to treat neurological conditions such as essential tremor, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, or brain tumors by transcranial ablation or the transient opening of the blood-brain barrier.

“iSMIT’s objective to ‘reduce patient trauma arising from traditional surgical operations or radiological interventions’ perfectly matches the goals of the Foundation,” said Andreae. “Presenting at this meeting was a great opportunity to increase awareness around focused ultrasound in this like-minded community that is likely to be among the early adopters of the technology.”