The Journal of mHealth Vol 2 Issue 4 (August) - Page 12
Chimaera Device Paves Way for
Wireless Pain Relief
A prototype surgical tool that combines preoperative CT data
with state-of-the-art sensing technology could put the ability to
carry out complex operations in the hands of many more doctors, according to its developers.
The hand-held device, called Chimaera, could revolutionise the
delivery of miniaturised neurostimulators to specific nerves, and
give many more patients access to pioneering new pain management technology.
Different regions of the brain are known to be linked to areas
of perception, such as pain. Neurostimulation involves applying
electric impulses to nerves to alter brain activity in a specific area.
"Pain is simply a series of electrical signals as transmitted
through the nervous system, whether that's pain from a broken leg or pain from a headache. So by putting an electrical
signal directly into target nerves, you're able to lessen, override
or deliver particular signals which influences how your brain is
experiencing things," explained Simon Karger from technology
developers Cambridge Consultants.
The main challenge with neurostimulation procedures is safely
accessing the correct nerve - which might be deep in the face or
behind an eye-socket - and implanting the device without complications for the patient.
Chimaera is designed to make implanting neuromodulators to
nerves much easier by integrating surgical, sensing and implant
delivery functions in one intelligent device. It uses preoperative
CT (computerised tomography) scan data to create a 3D X-ray
image of the patient, enabling surgeons to identify critical structures, such as nerves and blood vessels. This combines with the
intraoperative data from Chimaera's sensing technology to guide
the surgeon to the precise location of a procedure, helping to
ensure the surgical device stays on a predetermined safe pathway.
The real-time data generation is designed to be used in conjunction with optical wearable technology, such as Google glass.
This means a surgeon can literally 'see' exactly where they are
within the body at
any point during
an operation. Once
the target nerve
has been reached
the sensors also let
the surgeon know,
and the implant can
then be deployed
down the device.
neuromodulators - measuring less than a centimetre in length could be implanted as simply and quickly as possible. Chimaera,
he said, could allow doctors around the world perform a procedure that can currently only be carried out by a handful of people.
"With Chimaera, what we've done is we've combined smart
sensing technology, pre-operative planning, we've taken small
implant form-factors; and we've combined both implant delivery with surgical tool to provide a completely connected, unified surgical system that has the potential to take a surgery that
maybe only four or five people in the world can carry out today
and make it accessible to a broad cross-section of general surgeons. By doing that we make it accessible to a much, much
broader patient population," he said.
The developers said that while most of today's surgical tools are
largely passive, offering surgeons little feedback, Chimaera opens
the door to a new generation of neurostimulation implant procedures. It could, they say, enable more surgeons to carry out complex operations at lower risk and with better results for patients.
While it may be some time before a device like Chimaera is in
surgeons' hands, Karger said it could pave the way for wireless
pain management for patients using, for example, their mobile
phone: "Imagine a migraine sufferer who literally as they feel
the onset of their migraine, can reach for their cell phone and
dial-down the pain. That is a life-changing therapy for that
patient. And crucially what it does is it changes that patient
from a patient into a consumer; they don't need to feel like a
Developers Cambridge Consultants say Chimaera is the equivalent of a 'concept car' that demonstrates their vision for the next
generation of surgery. They say that all of the technologies that
are used in Chimaera currently exist, and they are now looking
for partners to lead a product development cycle to turn it into
a medical device ready for market.
Source: Reuters n