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Minimally invasive procedures: a continually expanding frontier



We each likely know someone close to us who has suffered from some form of heart disease, which is not surprising as cardiovascular disease remains to be the number one cause of death globally. Until recent years, treating heart disease meant opening the patient’s chest to directly access the heart through surgery.

This expensive procedure often exposed the patient to higher risk of infection and complications, as well as a long and - often painful - recovery. Plus, the patient had to be in reasonably good health to endure the procedure which meant that for some, due to their poor health, surgery wasn’t an option.


Fortunately, this started to change with the introduction of minimally invasive image guided procedures. Thanks to innovation in imaging technologies and new devices (like smart catheters that are inserted in to the body via a small incision), heart disease treatment can now be performed utilizing minimally invasive surgery. This is great news for patients, as there are less medical restrictions and risks associated with this treatment. A quicker recovery time leads to a shorter hospital stay as well. It’s positive news for hospitals too, since procedures are often completed faster and the income-to-costs ratio may be healthier.


Using new, less invasive delivery systems, physicians must determine where to place the catheters in the body; you could say that this is comparable to embarking on a journey in the dark. Now with live image guidance, real-time cardiac images can be provided to surgeons on monitors outside of the body to show a comprehensive view of the heart. The integration of live images with 3D images of the heart from other imaging devices truly helps physicians to see inside the body. Using this view, the physician can see a “roadmap” of the heart with additional holistic information on the heart’s environment, allowing surgeons to carefully guide their instruments through the body to surgical area.


Thanks to these innovations, treating heart disease has become a simpler procedure with a highly positive impact on the patient’s quality of life. Using minimally invasive techniques, patients are quickly treated and are often discharged from the hospital the same day - as opposed to previous methods that could result in week-long hospital recoveries. By developing true integrated solutions, minimally invasive procedures are beginning to replace traditional surgical care in other medical domains as well, such as in oncology.


On top of multi-modality imaging, ranging from systems to smart devices, intravascular imaging and measurement are also being integrated with smart catheters. This enables even better navigation and guidance during the procedure. So on top of the detailed navigation map and holistic view, surgeons can now add a view from the “driver’s seat” as to where they are going.


This illustrates the value of minimally invasive solutions. The industry has come a long way in helping more people get access to an effective and less invasive treatment of heart diseases. But this is just the beginning of the opportunities we can offer to provide care of the future.


Bert van Meurs

Senior Vice President, General Manager Image Guided Therapy, Chairman Philips Medical Systems Nederland BV

Bert van Meurs is Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Business Group Image Guided Therapy at Philips. Bert began his career at Philips Healthcare in 1985, where he progressed through various leadership positions in R&D, Clinical Science, Marketing and Sales.


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