Preceyes B.V. (Eindhoven, the Netherlands) and partners developed and integrated a distance sensor in Preceyes’ robot. The sensor measures the distance of an instrument from the retina in real time. The integrated device has been successfully used in a world’s first clinical validation at Rotterdam Eye Hospital (Rotterdam, the Netherlands). Providing sensor-based safety and guidance, the robot-sensor combination promises significant safety and performance benefits for retinal surgery. Moreover, the sensor will be a source of data for training and evaluation.
Retinal surgeries are performed by a small group of highly specialized ophthalmologists working at the physical limits of their motion and vision skills. The newly developed sensor supports these surgeons with real-time, micrometer depth perception using technology from optical coherence tomography (OCT). Distance measurements are fed back via audio signals, much like a car’s parking sensor. Exploiting the micrometer precision of the robot, the sensor allows the surgeon to comfortably maintain a fixed distance to the retina. This promises to reduce accidental tissue damage and improve retinal surgeries.
The study has been the world’s first clinical validation of the sensor, with financial support of the European Union and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. The robot-sensor combination has been successfully used in five patients. With the sensor, repetitive surgical routines can be automated. This promises to reduce surgeon burden and to decrease surgery time, making the robot-sensor combination attractive to high-volume usage in general hospitals.
Preceyes developed the sensor with consortium partners within the European Horizon 2020 project EurEyeCase: Medical Laser Center Lübeck (DE), Eindhoven University of Technology (NL) and the Austrian Center for Medical Innovation and Technology (AU). Surgeons of Rotterdam Eye Hospital and Sacco Hospital Eye Clinic (IT) performed the surgeries in Rotterdam. The study is the start of a multi-year collaboration between Preceyes and Rotterdam Eye Hospital for the development of robotic surgery.
Koorosh Faridpooya MD, senior retinal surgeon and lead investigator at Rotterdam Eye Hospital, said: “The Preceyes robot brings vitreoretinal surgery to the next level by maximizing the surgeon’s precision and control. Using this revolutionary sensor in the eye enables us to operate with enhanced vision and it supports the surgeon to improve surgery.”
Matteo Cereda MD, senior retinal surgeon at Sacco Hospital Eye Clinic, commented: “Using the robot definitely makes me a better surgeon. I felt really safe using it and all movements of the surgeon become really precise. In combination with the sensor, accidental trauma to the retina can now be avoided. A robot with this sensor paves the way to new scenarios in eye surgery and new therapeutic approaches.”
Prof. Marc de Smet MD, CMO of Preceyes, said: “This sensor represents a highly significant milestone. It promises to enhance the surgical skills of retinal surgeons at all levels of training and experience. The robot-sensor combination promises to improve the safety, the outcomes and speed of everyday surgical procedures. Analysis of the data generated and stored during surgery will allow us to optimize surgical steps by providing training and evaluating surgical performance.”