New low-cost surgical needle driver commences rollout


An affordable new surgical instrument for use in minimally invasive procedures is being commercialised for the first time.

Developed by the University of Michigan through a startup spin-off called FlexDex Surgical, the FlexDex needle driver is an all-mechanical platform that mounts to the surgeon's arm, with the tip of the instrument mimicking the direction of movement of the user's hand.

“ A new low-cost surgical needle driver is being rolled out in the US that could replace the use of expensive medical robots in conducting minimally invasive procedures.“

It is designed for use in laparoscopic and thoracic procedures including hernia repairs, hysterectomies and prostatectomies, and can emulate the functionality of medical robots that cost much more to purchase and operate.

Minimally invasive procedures are less traumatic than open surgeries, as they rely on smaller incisions and laparoscopic cameras to see inside the body, with small specialised instruments used to perform the operation. Typically, however, these instruments are cumbersome or expensive - a problem the FlexDex has been engineered to solve.

Key to its affordability is its all-mechanical nature, with its  patented Virtual Center situating the device's centre of rotation at the same point as the surgeon's wrist to offer fine control.

Jim Geiger, professor of surgery at the University of Michigan medical school, said: "This is the culmination of ten years of effort, and to know that the device is performing exactly as we expected it would, impacting patients' lives in a positive way - it's an amazing feeling."

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