R&D actors in spotlight – Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland
The Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland is a meeting place for professionals learning about the latest surgical technologies, researchers, and companies. The R&D infrastructure enables practicing technical surgical skills that require high accuracy and developing innovations in the industry in close interaction with clinical professionals at the Kuopio University Hospital, as a part of the North Savo wellbeing services county.
A meeting platform for professionals, researchers and companies
Established in 2017 and located at the Kuopio University Hospital, the Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland provides services for professionals in medical care, technology companies and researchers. The center enables practicing surgical skills that require high accuracy with real instruments using simplified models and biological tissue. The work of the Microsurgery Center has been developed with the support of the Regional Council of North Savo and the European Regional Development Fund.
The facilities of the Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland include a procedure planning space, a wet lab, a dry exercise laboratory and a conference area. Partners can also book office spaces from the center. For researchers, the facilities provide a setting for conducting versatile academic research.
“The equipment at the Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland represents the latest technology in the industry. One of the main tendencies in the activities is striving to also get involved in product development. We’ve had an opportunity to participate in the product development efforts of many startups. The Microsurgery Center activities also include limited equipment testing. Our work has additionally included designing and implementing custom 3D simulation models in collaboration with Savonia University of Applied Science. The 3D-printed model enables examining the location of a brain aneurysm in the cerebral artery, says Antti Huotarinen, the Manager of the Microsurgery Center.
In addition to the latest surgical technologies, the research equipment includes an adjustable hyperspectral imaging camera, an eye-tracking system for a microscope, VR user interfaces, a surgical video management system, and high-performance computers for running applications. International courses in surgical medical technology are also annually organized at the center. Key services of the Microsurgery Center include product development and testing services, training, and research.
“The facilities are suitable for purposes such as product showcases by tech companies and product development work. Product showcases at the center’s facilities enable companies to train professionals to use new technologies and devices. The device can be further introduced to clinical and operative use through testing and product development. The genuine hospital environment and direct contact with end users enable giving instant feedback and obtaining knowledge about any development needs related to the technology, says Ahmed Hussein, Clinical coordinator at the center.
The Manager of Microsurgery Center Antti Huotarinen and Clinical coordinator Ahmed Hussein are demonstrating the AESCULAP exoscope, one of the center’s latest acquisitions.
“The location of the Microsurgery Center in a real-life environment inside the hospital, its interdisciplinary activities and contacts with students, highly experienced professionals, researchers and companies bring new opportunities for the emergence of innovations. A research and innovation orientation lies at the core of our activities and I find it important that we can provide both research groups and startups with a platform”, Huotarinen continues.
The Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland is a low-threshold place for work placements for medical students. The center also serves as a safe and stress-free environment for familiarization with surgical techniques without the requirements set by a real-life procedure. Practicing regularly enables the development of the manual skills required by professionals, improves the efficiency of operative activities and increases patient safety. The facilities are also suitable for organizing custom training and exercises for healthcare professionals employed in various tasks.
The arthroscopy simulator jointly procured by the Microsurgery Center and Orthopedics enables practicing arthroscopic surgery procedures. The photo shows a module suitable for practicing surgical procedures on the shoulder area, such as rotator cuff surgeries.
Academic research is also carried out at the facilities of the Microsurgery Center, although the center’s current focus is on developing its core activities. Research projects previously carried out at the center include the Microsurgical photonics project, 2019–2020 (Emil Aaltonen Foundation, European Regional Development Fund and Northern Savonia Fund Academy of Finland) and the Inner ear research project that aimed to develop custom solutions for the treatment of cochlear implant patients (Academy of Finland, Government research funding).
“The different operations at the center create a unique combination. Our future aim is to advance the establishment of the core activities into an extensive part of the management of operative skills”, Huotarinen continues.
Interdisciplinary top research enables world-class innovation
Marginum Oy is a startup in health technology established in Kuopio in 2020. The company has developed a device used to monitor the tissues in surgical waste. The device is attached to a surgical suction tube, routinely used in operations to remove tissue material. The detector provides surgeons with nearly real-time data on the actual content of the removed tissue. The device detects tumor tissue based on fluorescence intensity.
“We have been able to validate our concept, collect valuable clinical data and test the performance of our prototype with promising results. The Microsurgery Center of Eastern Finland and the Kuopio University Hospital have played a key role in this collaboration”, says Samu Lehtonen, CEO, Marginum, of the research behind the innovation. A clinical trial on patients has just been launched at the Kuopio University Hospital.
See True Technologies Oy, is a spin-off company that originated from the School of Computing, University of Eastern Finland, developing medical and industrial applications, eye-tracking and augmented and virtual reality solutions. The company creates eye-tracking solutions based on computer vision. The company has collaborated closely with the Microsurgery Center and the technology has largely evolved from studies carried out in this cooperation.
ER4 Surgery is a project aiming at commercial application participating in the SPARK mentoring programme originating from cooperation with the HUMEA laboratory. The team is developing a novel software solution that aims to provide extended reality applications for all surgical specialties.