Brian Buntz

April 24, 2013

4 Min Read
Microcamera Promises to Revolutionize Endoscopic Imaging Technology

Sanovas cofounders Larry Gerrans and Erhan Gunday have significant experience in the world of endoscopy. The two helped pioneer minimally invasive surgery in the 1980's and '90s, which saw a shift in the paradigm of intervention from open laparotomy to minimally invasive procedures such as laparoscopy and arthroscopy. "And through the evolution of that process, we saw this mass proliferation of devices that were foreign to the traditional operating room environment and fundamentally changed the operative relationship between the physician and the patient.," Gerrans says. While helping improve patient care, the technology behind those procedures created traffic obstructions in the operating room and resulted in storage constraints for the facility. "We saw endoscopic carts being stored in showers and janitors' lockers. It was a painful ordeal," Gerrans recalls. This gave rise to the Integrated Operating Room, in which Gerrans played an instrumental role.

The MicroCam shown next to a dime.

Now, the company, which is making progress towards commercializing a suite of technologies for treating pulmonary disease and lung cancer, has introduced its first product for the medical device OEM market: the MicroCam, micro-imaging platform for endoscopic device applications, which does away with the need for most of the components that comprise an endoscopic system and eliminate the endoscopic cart entirely.

The camera came out of the company's work to create an imaging technology that can see inside the tight spaces of the lung. "We saw the necessity to miniaturize technology and then we looked at the world markets and saw there was a much larger demographic of providers and patients that are out there that would love to use more minimally invasive technologies but simply could not afford the capital acquisition cost of the endoscopic imaging systems that were needed," Gerrans explains. 

The MicroCam can be used on practically any surgical instrument, providing clinicians with a wide variety of images and viewing angles. Gerrans is bullish on the impact the technology will have for the endoscopic imaging market. "We can create entirely new product lines of arthroscopes, laparoscopes, flexible and articulating endoscopes as well as a host of new surgical instruments with camera's integrated into them that can plug directly into a monitor," he explains. "This will increase the affordability and portability of minimally invasive surgical procedures on a global scale".

The MicroCam system eliminates the need for camera consoles, camera heads, camera couplers, light sources, and light cables as well as the rigid eye piece rod lens endoscopes that are currently the standard in the marketplace. For surgeons, replacing rigid eye piece rod lens endoscopes is a big deal. Most will tell you that they have long endured the fogging problems that plague the interface between the eyepiece and the camera coupler, obstructing their view and causing them to stop their procedure to clean both components, in the effort to restore visibility.

Potential applications of the MicroCam include a 3-mm laparoscope (shown on the left), an articulating tip with textured surface balloons (shown in the center), or a 2-way or 4-way articulating laparoscope.

"This new imaging platform is intended to create new surgical technologies that expand the access and affordability of MIS, improve operative efficiencies for the surgeon, save provider's cash and recover valuable space in the operating room", Gerrans says. "From a cost factor, we can eliminate 80% to 90% of the facilities acquisition costs associated with purchasing endoscopic imaging systems and can virtually eliminate the operating costs associated with the ongoing repairs and maintenance of these systems."

From a space standpoint, the plug and play technologies the MicroCam will enable can free up valuable real estate adjacent to the surgical table because of its ability to do away with an endoscopic cart, which has a footprint  measuring roughly 2 to 3 feet  wide by 7 feet tall. These new technologies may also enable new markets. In light of the new economics in health care, the MicroCam may just be the new tool that serves to illuminate what is coming at the end of the tunnel.

The outer diameter of the camera measures 3 mm and comes with a 1mm wiring harness of virtually any length. Smaller diameters are forthcoming.

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Brian Buntz is the editor-in-chief of MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz.

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