Written by Veronika Bradley, Editor for Children’s Health and Safety Association – July 29, 2014 and Republished by Diligencia Investigative Reporting – April 2019
“He may not have invented Facebook or an iPad, but Medtech CEO Bertin Nahum is considered the 4th most revolutionary entrepreneur in the world,” say Tom Gibson of Bloomberg News.
Bertin Nahum’s ranking is only surpassed by Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and James Cameron, according to the 2012 Discovery Series.
Medtech’s robotic assistant, ROSA™, enables surgeons to perform complex brain surgeries for diseases such as epilepsy, brain tumours, Parkinson’s, generalized dystonia and endoscopic procedures with greater ease, accuracy and safety without compromising established surgical protocols. This not only benefits patients but also heightens the medical possibilities of the healthcare system to a future-forward reality where innovative technologies play an ever increasing and valuable role.
To date, ROSA™ is the only Robotic Assistant approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada; as well, it has received a CE Marking and ISO certificate for neurosurgical procedures.
"The future of surgery is not about blood and guts; the future of surgery is about bits and bytes,” says Dr. Richard Satava, Professor, Department of Surgery at the University of Washington.
Founded in 2002 by Bertin Nahum and based near Montpellier in southern France, Medtech designs, develops and markets innovative robotic systems that make neurosurgical procedures safer, more efficient and less invasive. In 2007, the company launched ROSA™ Brain, a cutting-edge technology platform dedicated to cranial surgery.
“Buoyed by growing demand from healthcare professionals, Medtech was elected Frost & Sullivan’s European Company of the Year for surgical robotics in 2013,” says the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
After winning approval from authorities in Europe (2009) and the United States (2011), the company now has 23 robotic units in operation worldwide. Since 2011, it has expanded the scope of its platform into spinal surgery with ROSA™ Spine.
Bertin Nahum Responds to Questions
Veronika Bradley (VB): I understand ROSA is being used at twenty-three hospitals in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East. Can you tell me how many children were the recipients of a successful operation using ROSA and what was the predominant disease?
Bertin Nahum: ROSA is particularly suited for surgical procedures on children and infants, thanks to its less-invasive technique. Over 450 children have been operated with ROSA in paediatric hospitals such as the Foundation of Rothschild in Paris or the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome.
The predominant disease for which children undergo ROSA surgery is epilepsy, a disease affecting about 50 million people worldwide.
VB: When was ROSA first used on a patient and what was the result of the operation?
Bertin Nahum: ROSA was first used on a patient in October 2008 in France. Everything went extremely well, as we knew it would, and we were all deeply proud and moved that our technology could finally benefit a patient.
VB: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 80% of the people with epilepsy are found in developing countries and 75% of those people do not get the treatment they need. Are there economic strategies in place to avail ROSA to those regions of the world that require it the most?
Bertin Nahum: In view of these realities, innovative solutions such as ROSA robot can be very helpful in the treatment of such patients, both in developed and developing countries. Even though Medtech market penetration strategy depends on countries economy, hospital organizations and healthcare systems, we are currently in discussions with various hospitals in developing countries to sell the first ROSA robots in Africa or South America.
About 30% of patients worldwide are resistant to drugs, which makes them potential candidates for surgery. In reality, today, only 1% of patients undergo operative procedures.
VB: How many patients can a single robotic arm service in a year?
Bertin Nahum: ROSA robot has no real limitation, for example, 240 surgeries have been performed this year at Foundation of Rothschild in Paris.
VB: Can you foresee the day when the consortium of computers, robots and IT diagnosticians replace surgeons?
Bertin Nahum: I am often asked this question and my answer is still the same. I cannot imagine a hospital or a world where surgeons are replaced by robots and computers. They are the brain and the main hand of surgical procedures and our robotic tools, as relevant and innovative as they might be, are here to secure their gesture and make the surgery easier.
I am deeply attached to the recognition of surgeons’ expertise and value, as well as to the wonderful things we can accomplish together, for the benefit of patients.
VB: I can’t imagine living in your every day, sci-fi, future forward world! What is your vision of the future in medical technology?
Bertin Nahum: In years to come, hospitals will be subject to the rise of innovative and connected platforms within their tools, their processes, their methods as well as in other areas.
For instance, operating rooms are expected to be disrupted by these innovations that will probably interact and turn our hospitals into deeply connected and augmented places. I do believe and hope technology will participate in a better living for patients, providing them more mobility, security and comfort.
First Hospital to Use a Robotic Arm in Canada
Alberta Children’s Hospital will be the first health facility in Canada to use a robotic arm for paediatric surgeries.
In 2011, Josh Cooper suffered from severe seizures that physicians at Alberta Children’s Hospital insisted could be cured through surgery. Last December Josh underwent an eight-hour procedure that proved to be a total success and now he is 100% seizure free.
Alberta Children’s Hospital performs 12,000 surgeries and treats 87,000 kids annually.
Local philanthropists Brenda and Brian MacNeill, donated 5 million dollars to the Alberta Children’s Hospital which will pay for the robotic arm, a navigation system for brain and spinal procedures, a microscope system that highlights tumours with a dye, and a new research chair for paediatric surgery capable of seeking out methods to reduce the invasiveness of surgery on children.
The robotics-manufacturing industry is expected to double before 2015.
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that affects people in every country of the world. It is characterized by recurrent seizures of brief episodes of involuntary shaking, which may involve a part of the body (partial) or the entire body (generalized), and sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.
The episodes are a result of excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells. Different parts of the brain can be the site of such discharges. Seizures can vary from the briefest lapses of attention or muscle jerks, to severe and prolonged convulsions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from less than one per year to several per day.
Key facts about epilepsy
- Epilepsy responds to treatment about 70% of the time, yet about 75% of affected people in developing countries do not get the treatment they need.
- The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is two to three times higher than it is for the general population.
- Fear, misunderstanding, discrimination and social stigma have surrounded epilepsy, one of the world's oldest recognized conditions. The stigma of the disorder can discourage people from seeking treatment for symptoms and becoming identified with the disorder.
- Epilepsy accounts for 0.5% of the global burden of disease, a time-based measure that combines years of life lost due to premature mortality and time lived in states of less than full health.
- People with epilepsy experience reduced access to health and life insurance, a withholding of the opportunity to obtain a driving license, and barriers to enter particular occupations, among other limitations.
- In both China and India, epilepsy is commonly viewed as a reason for prohibiting or annulling marriages.
- In the United Kingdom, a law forbidding people with epilepsy to marry was repealed only in 1970.
- In the United States, until the 1970s, it was legal to deny people with seizures access to restaurants, theatres, recreational centres and other public buildings.
According to WHO, of the 50 million people that suffer from epilepsy approximately 10.5 million are children. WHO, the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) are carrying out a global campaign, ‘Out of the Shadows’, to provide better information and raise awareness about epilepsy, and strengthen public and private efforts to improve care and reduce the disorder's impact.
For additional information, Diligencia Investigative Reporting recommends the following websites and articles:
Dr. Demitre Serletis, Neurosurgeon at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), describes the medical benefits of ROSA™ for the surgical treatment of epilepsy in a YouTube video: What is the stereotactic ROSA robot?
Business Innovation Factory – Dr. Richard Satava, Senior Science Advisor, US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
E-Action - E-Action® is the online Canadian community that strives to provide a caring and informative environment for those wishing to learn more about epilepsy. Not only will you find information about different types of epilepsy, treatment options and lifestyle tips – you will also hear stories from people just like you!
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