Patent of the month October

  © InnoSurgeAC

Surgical planning system for the reconstruction of missing or damaged bone parts

Once again this year, the award-winning participants in the AC2 Startup and Growth Competition wowed the audience with their inventiveness and great ideas at the awards ceremony, which was held as a hybrid event on September 7. The first prize in the Start-up Competition went to a RWTH Aachen spin-off: The medical technology start-up InnoSurge AC, consisting of engineers, researchers and surgeons from the team of Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. Frank Hölzle, Director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the RWTH Aachen University Hospital. We cordially congratulate and choose the related patent application DE102017222368A1 filed in 2017 in Germany and two years later in the USA US2020297421A1 under the title "Surgical planning system for the reconstruction of missing or damaged bone parts", to be our Patent of the Month October!

However, the topic of the founding team consisting of Prof. Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Ali Modabber, Dr.-Ing. Stefan Raith, Dr. med. dent. Florian Peters, Thomas Roth and Tobias Pankert from the Clinic of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University Hospital RWTH Aachen is not an ordinary one: Facial reconstruction in people after serious illnesses or accidents is a significant and, to date, very complex task. After all, the implant used in the reconstruction of, for example, a jaw bone, consisting of a part of the person's own bone, must be individually customized for each patient. Nowadays, the planning of these surgeries is done with commercially available software programs.
Yet the currently available IT applications are extremely complicated to handle, so that surgeons usually have to rely on interdisciplinary support, e.g. by medically trained engineers, for the preoperative, geometric planning of the intervention. The communication required for this makes the entire process time-consuming and thus costly - fast and objective surgical planning is not feasible in this way.

The inventors of InnoSurge have fundamentally improved the previous state of the art of medical software for virtual surgery planning and automation of the procedure! Their software is supported by a learning artificial intelligence (AI) system that is so convenient to use it allows the surgeons to independently handle the virtual OR planning and select the appropriate surgical techniques. The AI is used to analyse numerous computer tomography image data in order to automatically create an optimised surgery proposal for the individual patient. The digital planning is subsequently transferred to the surgery room in precise detail using 3D-printed templates. In this way, surgical interventions can be carried out significantly faster and more cost-effectively.

The illustration used in this article shows the virtual reconstruction of a mandible after tumour removal with a graft from the fibula. The three segments are shown in different colours and are automatically placed in the defect region with the help of the patent-pending procedure that an optimal reconstruction is achieved. In the lower part of the image, the harvesting site on the donor bone is displayed by the software with the corresponding cutting template.

Its potential lies particularly in the modular structure of the software, which allows it to be easily adapted and scaled to applications in other medical disciplines, for example in plastic surgery or orthopaedics. For patients, it means receiving a functionally and aesthetically optimised transplant much faster so they can enjoy a higher life quality.

The interdisciplinary founding team of engineering, economics, software development and medicine not only convinced the jury of the AC2 Competition. In 2019, InnoSurge AC was also awarded a prize in the Start-up Competition - Digital Innovations of the BMWI in the business field of healthcare and in 2020 it reached one of the first ten places in the Venture Cup of the independent start-up initiative Science4Life e.V. 2020!

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