InSightec's Vision: The Operating Room of the Future

Dr. Kobi Vortman, CEO and President, Explains InSightec's Vision: Building the Next Generation Operating Room

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"The way I see the future is the building of the next generation operating room, replacing traditional surgery by non-invasive outpatient procedure".

InSightec was established in January 1999. The company developed a breakthrough technology that in essence allows treating human beings without cutting the body. We developed technological systems that allows the destruction of targets deep inside the body completely non-invasive. The unique part of InSightec is that all these procedures are being done under real time monitoring and control of treatment outcome. So the user is capable of changing treatment parameters on-the-fly, not in retrospect and achieves the desired outcome.

The main part of the system is the transducer that transmits the ultrasound waves from this area here. This has thousands of elements in it each one is electronically controlled by a complicated electronic system together with mechanics and software that supports it. Each one of those elements is transmitting the ultrasound waves focusing at the treatment point.

The technology allows us to treat almost any tumor inside the body. We started with uterine fibroids. It’s a huge problem about 25% of women will suffer from significant symptomatic effects. Today the gold standard is hysterectomy. The patient goes through a hysterectomy then she will be hospitalized for a couple of days (3-5), sent home to recover. It will take weeks to recover. In our treatment the next day the patient is back to her life, work and family. It’s a dramatic change for women.

Step two was turning to oncology. We selected a specific application which is metastatic bone tumor. It’s a palliative treatment. The next one which is in many ways the holy grail of this technology is brain treatments. We are treating central nervous system diseases like Parkinson’s, like essential tremor. We’ve seen patients that for tens of years suffered from these diseases leaving the table immediately post treatment with no tremors.

We’ll definitely look as the next step at brain tumors, prostate cancer, liver tumors, breast cancer and so on. Eventually we see it as a next generation operating room centralized service in the hospital.

I did my first degree in physics and mathematics in Jerusalem and then I moved to the Technion and did my first engineering degree in electrical engineering and then continued directly to a PhD in electro-optics. In parallel I started working at Rafael. During my days at Rafael we had a very tight collaboration with a couple of laboratories and researchers at the Technion and as a combined team we worked on a couple of breakthrough programs in essence until now are playing a major role in the defense of Israel.

When we started InSightec the whole R&D team came from the Technion. I would say I had a hard time persuading the leaders to interview anyone from any other institute in Israel. To an extreme it was a Technion based company so these are ongoing relations. I would guess at least 80% of our R&D team is coming from the Technion.

This is the new brain system that we develop and manufacture here at InSightec. The main challenge in developing this system was to be able to penetrate the skull the non-uniform skull and still get the focal point of the waves in the required spot in the brain. These was never done before by any company and add to it the idea of having everything MRI guided makes it very complicated involving so many disciplines and excellence in science and technology. 

In many ways the system is a “Star Trek” because the notion that you could place someone on a table look at him using MRI and then three hours later this guy rides his bike back home is something that at least in my generation is perceived as “guys send me a postcard when this will be ready, o.k.?”
In reality the system exists and is doing it today. We have a lot of dreams an unlimited amount of dreams. In almost everything you touch there is a chance to do something different.

Think about a stroke. Think about the possibility that this technology will be able to liquefy a clot in the brain really fast in the first three to four hours and get reflow back again to the brain and save the brain.
Another different idea is targeted drug delivery so we could generate significantly higher toxicities at the targeted volume while avoiding or sparing the whole body. So the way I see it and dream about it is doing a huge change in medicine and helping millions of people globally".

Learn more about MR guided Focused Ultrasound (also known as MRgFUS and HIFU) Technology.

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