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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Revolutionising surgery: GE Healthcare takes intraoperative imaging to the next level

Health Industry Hub | May 15, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The combination of intraoperative imaging and robotic surgical techniques is propelling the field of surgery into a new era of enhanced visualisation and informed decision-making.

One technology that has captured the attention of clinicians is the bkActiv ultrasound system from BK Medical, which was acquired by GE HealthCare in 2021. The company has announced the expansion of the bkActiv system to include a broader range of procedures in the operating room, including urology, colorectal, and pelvic floor surgeries.

The bkActiv ultrasound system offers clinicians vital visual information during surgical procedures, enabling them to perform with greater precision and make critical decisions based on real-time insights. This technology holds particular promise for minimally invasive and robotic surgeries, which aim to minimise pain and trauma, reduce complications, and facilitate faster patient recovery.

Urvi Vyas, General Manager of Surgical Visualisation and Guidance-Ultrasound at GE HealthCare, expressed the significance of this expansion. “By expanding the bkActiv system, we are giving physicians the tools they need to provide precise treatment with the ability to see fine details in image guidance, which ultimately may allow for better outcomes for people who require urology, colorectal, and pelvic floor procedures,” he said.

Traditionally, ultrasound has been widely used in the operating room for identifying and characterising cancerous lesions, particularly in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. However, as technology advances, ultrasound is finding application in an expanding range of scenarios. For example, in prostate cancer treatment, where cancers are typically localised in a specific region, the bkActiv system can highlight the targeted areas and provide information about the blood flow within them. This unique capability enhances surgeons’ ability to locate and target cancerous tissues accurately.

Adam Melnick, product strategy director at GE HealthCare, explained the value of enhanced image quality. He said “What image quality gets you is it just makes you more confident in what you’re seeing and that helps guide you in your intervention.”

The expansion of the bkActiv system to various surgical procedures initially benefits its most enthusiastic adopters, particularly urologists who specialise in kidney, prostate, and urinary tract diseases. These specialists have rapidly embraced robotic surgery techniques and intraoperative imaging, such as bkActiv, to assist with procedures like prostate biopsies. With the system’s broader application, urologists can perform more of their work in the operating room, utilising their preferred tool to provide comprehensive care for their patients.

Moreover, the expansion of bkActiv opens doors for its involvement in emerging procedures called focal therapies. These techniques aim to ablate cancer cells within the prostate, offering a more targeted approach than complete prostate removal. By strategically placing bkActiv’s specially designed probes around the prostate, surgeons can better direct ablative energy towards cancerous cells while preserving healthy tissues. This approach reduces complications such as erectile dysfunction and incontinence, significantly improving patients’ quality of life post-surgery.

While the field of intraoperative imaging continues to evolve, real-time surgical-guided ultrasound has emerged as one of the fastest-growing technologies to enhance other imaging modalities used in the operating room. Although some specialists, such as neurosurgeons, still prefer pre-operative MRI and CT scans, surgical ultrasound can complement these methods effectively. Ultrasound provides active imaging, is user-friendly for non-radiologists during surgery, and the equipment is compact. Additionally, ultrasound employs sound waves instead of ionising radiation, making it a safe and suitable option for imaging without the need for patient preparation beforehand.

Roland Rott, President and CEO of GE HealthCare Ultrasound, emphasised the significance of integrating real-time surgical visualisation into the company’s ultrasound capabilities. He said “Adding the fast-growing and relatively new field of real-time surgical visualisation to GE HealthCare’s pre- and post-operative ultrasound capabilities will create an end-to-end offering through the full continuum of care.”

As the field of intraoperative imaging continues to evolve, innovative systems are empowering surgeons to push the boundaries of what is possible in the operating room and ushering in a new standard of surgical care.

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