We are creating a revolutionary training and planning platform for neurosurgeons.

It´s all in the head!

"Medical EDUcation in Surgical Aneurysm Clipping", or "Medusa" for short, is the name of the medical technology flagship project of the province of Upper Austria, which is funded with 2.3 million euros. The aim is to develop a hybrid simulator that offers neurosurgeons a versatile - maximally realistic - training opportunity by combining the real and virtual worlds.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Operations, for example in the course of treating brain haemorrhages, are among the most difficult interventions of all and present surgeons with an enormous challenge. Millimetres can decide whether a patient recovers or has to live with impairments in the future. In extreme cases, it is a matter of life and death. Precision is the decisive criterion in neurosurgery. In recent years, state-of-the-art medical technology on the one hand and highly trained doctors on the other have contributed significantly to increasing safety and thus the proportion of positive surgical outcomes. But it is precisely in terms of training and planning of interventions that experts see opportunities for development thanks to new technologies.

Austria's neurosurgeons are already among the best in the world. At the latest with the engagement of the internationally recognised specialist for cerebrovascular neurosurgery and neurosurgical intensive care, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Gruber, as chair at the Medical Faculty of Linz in November 2016, Kepler University Hospital has consolidated its reputation as the leading and largest centre of excellence in the country. So it was almost obvious that, in the course of the "MED UP - Medical Upper Austria" initiative, the lead project formulated as one of four recommendations for action to further strengthen the province as an innovative MedTech location in the field of neurosurgery should be established.

„It is great that we have this flagship project in Upper Austria. MEDUSA catapults us right to the front in research and development.“
Interview with Dr. Andreas Gruber, Neurosurgery, Med Campus 2 Linz

A hybrid neurosurgical training and planning platform will combine the real and virtual worlds to create versatile and realistic training opportunities. Surgeons can thus haptically feel the artificially created patient and see inside, otherwise invisible anatomical structures in the form of virtually generated holograms. The mixed reality application created by the "Medusa" project is intended to be used in the training of young surgeons on the one hand, and on the other hand for the concrete preparation of complex operations by incorporating real patient data.

About microsurgical aneurysm clipping

Two methods have become established in the treatment of intracranial aneurysms: endovascular coiling and microsurgical clipping. They complement each other, depending on the size, shape and location of the aneurysm in question. In about two-thirds of cases, the treating physicians decide to close the aneurysm sac with platinum coils that are placed via the vessel path with a microcatheter (coiling). This is considered a gentler therapy with slightly lower complication rates. However, about one third of the cases require opening the skull and closing the aneurysm with one or more clips (clipping). In this way, even complex aneurysms that cannot be treated endovascularly can be eliminated. The operation, which often takes three to six hours, is performed under the microscope.

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