Brain surgery is a difficult procedure that requires complete concentration by the surgeon and multiple medical instruments. One of these is a neurosurgical punch which allows surgeons to take out small pieces of bone through the nose.
Unfortunately this medical instrument isn’t very flexible. “The device can only be inserted and used in a linear fashion. There is no way to rotate the instrument,” explains Dr van der Laan, ear, nose and throat specialist at the University Medical Center of Groningen (UMCG). “Since you can’t rotate it, you need to continuously move the punch in and out of the nose. Every time you do that you cause a lot of tissue damage to the inside of the nose. This is bad for the post-operative healing process.”
TU Delft helps out
Wanting to improve this medical instrument, UMCG contacted DEAM. This company designs, produces and sells innovative medical instruments. DEAM then drafted a proposal for TU Delft to work on this case.
Master of Biomechanical Engineering, Alexander Sendrowicz, jumped at the opportunity and worked out the idea in practice. After several meetings with a group of neurosurgeons, he developed an innovative version of the neurosurgical punch called the ‘NeuroPunch’.
Van der Laan explains that “We can angle this device inside the nose. It also allows us to push the piece of bone through a catheter inside a collecting device. This device is inside the handle which stays inside the operative area at all times. This will potentially save us time, and will cause less trauma as we don’t have to go in and out of the nose.”
Market ready within two years
The NeuroPunch needs extra testing on humans. “Surgeons will need to double check the design’s ability and technical feasibility,” explains DEAM director Jules Scheltes. “It will take about two years to get this product on the market.”
TU Delft TV shot a short documentary on the NeuroPunch’s development. Make sure to watch it below.