Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) has drastically changed the way surgeries are undergone. The primary idea is to reduce risks such as infection by avoiding complicated surgeries that require large incisions. In addition to MIS being a safer all-around option to the traditional techniques, it is also an economical alternative as it decreases the surgical resources required and the post-operation healing time as well as overall hospital stay time.
Like many tools or techniques, there is still room to improve MIS instruments. “...Issues still remain, including minimal feedback for surgeons and interventional radiologists, who must work with a deprived sense of touch. This can lead to medical error during MIS – such as organs that are accidentally punctured or nicked.” (Canadian Healthcare Technology) This lack of sensory or pressure detection is a huge pain point for those who continue to prefer the original more invasive surgical techniques. After all, how can a tool be as steady and precise as direct human touch? University of Toronto PhD students Robert Brooks and Justin Wee have taken steps to eliminate this pain point by developing a device called ForceFilm.
This Canadian team decided to target a globally known issue with current MIS technology, create a solution and in turn received some recognition. “This year’s Canadian national winner of the James Dyson Award is ForceFilm – a thin surgical instrument add-on that accurately measures forces exerted on tissue from minimally invasive surgery”. This instrument is not only environmentally friendly due to its ability to be steam cleaned and reused but it also tightens the gap between the surgeon’s steady touch sensory and the instrument being used. “Wirelessly communicated”, the surgeon receives detections that let them know if their instrument’s pressure is becoming dangerous to internal organs and other essential tissue in real time.
The James Dyson Award celebrates and provides a global platform for young entrepreneurial thinkers in several countries all over the world. Startupheretoronto.com explains, “Projects are judged purely on the quality of entry – from the significance of the design to the various iterations of the design and how the product has developed”. The ForceFilm performed well in this arena due to its versatile and applicable design, its ability to stay economical and the fact that it is a direct impactful solution to a global issue. Sometimes it pays to keep an idea simple.
The SensOR Medical Laboratories team is over the moon about this amazing accomplishment. Brooks stated, “Winning the national James Dyson Award means we can get the word out about our technology and how ForceFilm can have a life-saving impact on minimally invasive surgery.” Their team along with a small number of other national runner-ups are now invited to move forward to the next stages of competition where they could be shortlisted to win at an international level.
In the meantime, the SensOR Medical duo plans to take their national level winnings and apply them to making the product even more environmentally sustainable; “…with the goal of having ForceFilm last a full year in surgical use,” (Brooks). An adjustment such as this will assist the Torontonian team in getting their project on that global shortlist of 20.