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Surgery robotics

Korean medical robot opens a new era of neurosurgery in large hospitals

By Nov 24, 2020 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea’s first neurosurgery robot, developed by 3D inspection device maker Koh Young Technology Inc., is ready to join the medical robot market, after two leading Korean hospitals wrapped up two-year clinical trials of the new robot.

KYMERO is the world’s first commercialization of a brain surgery robot that can be attached to the patient’s bed. It is used in the stereotactic brain surgery, a sophisticated surgical procedure with an accuracy error of less than 1 millimeter, to treat hand tremors, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

KYMERO has been through clinical trials at both Samsung Medical Center and Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital in Sinchon, Seoul.

Severance Hospital finished the installation of the robotic system last month. In June, Samsung Medical Center released the final report on its clinical trials of KYMERO, according to healthcare industry sources on Nov. 23.

Koh Young researcher testing KYMERO (Courtesy of Koh Young)
Koh Young researcher testing KYMERO (Courtesy of Koh Young)

KYMERO aids in precise positioning during medical operations by guiding the surgeon to the exact location of the lesion and the pathway, based on calculations made by its embedded software.  

In detail, a 3D scanner on the operating table surveys the patient's brain using a three-dimensional coordinate system and obtains the appropriate target coordinates for the intervention. To discover the exact surgical site and the pathway, data from the 3D scanner is matched with that from the CT or MRI brain images of the patient uploaded onto the navigation platform.

“It is a simulation process to discover the exact surgical site and pathway during the surgery,” a Koh Young source told The Korea Economic Daily.

“It is similar to the principle of a GSP navigation system, which matches the real-time road data with that on the screen.”

Robotic arms mounted to the operating table pinpoint the location of the lesion and the pathway with laser beam and pencil-shaped instruments on a real-time basis.

Compared to other medical robots, for which the robotic hardware and the navigation software need to be purchased separately, KYMERO has both elements combined into one robot.

Samsung Medical Center neurosurgeon Lee Jung-il, who has led clinical trials for KYMERO, gave a nod to its accuracy, saying it will also cut surgery time.

“The existing devices for brain biopsies tend to result in 5-10% slightly incorrect diagnoses,” he said. “I carried out 25 brain surgeries during which I tested KYMERO as part of its clinical trials. In all of them, KYMERO pointed to the exact lesion.”

Lee is a stereotactic brain surgery expert and president of the Asian Australasian Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery (AASSFN). He led the two-year clinical trials along with Severance Hospital neurosurgeon Chang Jin-woo.

Koh Young has led the global solder paste inspection (SPI) market since 2006 and has pioneered the expansion of 3D automated optical inspection (AOI) industry. It began developing medical robots as part of a government project in 2011.

Write to Dong-Hyun Kim at 3code@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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