Giving brain surgeons a helping arm - Barts Charity

Giving brain surgeons a helping arm

A new robotic hands-free microscope the first of its kind in the UK – is improving the surgical experience for staff and patients at The Royal London Hospital.

  • Date: September 14, 2020

The toll on doctors

Brain surgery is notorious for being intricate and time consuming. Some brain procedures take over six hours, and years of surgery can take its toll on doctors.

Historically, surgeons lean forward into binocular-style microscopes, sometimes in uncomfortable positions, to see a close-up of their surgical field and they must repeatedly down tools to readjust their view, which takes up valuable time.

"The Modus V exoscope will have a big impact on our work... I believe this will be the future for optics."
Alex, Neurosurgery Registrar

A powerful microscope

But new equipment at The Royal London Hospital is changing this. The ‘Modus V’ exoscope, funded by Barts Charity, is the first of its kind in the UK.

It’s a microscope on a robotic arm similar to equipment used on the International Space Station and can be moved by a foot pedal or voice activation. The powerful microscope is located high above the patient and the live video it’s recording is sent to a 50 inch HD screen visible to everyone in theatre.

A close-up of the equipment

Improving the surgery experience

It uses infra-red tracking technology and automatically changes position as the surgeon moves, to give the best possible view. This means that the surgeon can look directly ahead at the screen rather than down into a microscope, which is ergonomically better and reduces neck and back pain.

Not only will the reduced operating time enable more patients to be treated, it also means less anaesthetic for each patient.  A further benefit is in training future surgeons – they can watch the big screen to see exactly how the experienced surgeon is working.

Neurosurgery Registrar Alex Alamri

A positive impact

Neurosurgery Registrar Alex, who applied for the grant, says: “The Modus V exoscope will have a big impact on our work, reducing procedure times by about 10% – enabling us to perform an extra 40 operations a year. I believe this will be the future for optics.”

Neurosurgeon Mr Christopher Uff adds: “We are able to see some angles of the brain that I have never seen before. The improved image quality is like the difference between using binoculars and watching a wide-screen HD-TV.”

The Mail on Sunday recently featured the Modus V exoscope, explaining how it helped surgeons operating on 57-year-old Hasibe Behjet from Hackney who had a brain aneurysm. Read the story here.

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