AO Foundation and BrainLAB announce partnership on image guidance for trauma surgery

Chicago 18 October 2004The AO Foundation, a medically oriented non-profit organisation with international research and educational activities and BrainLAB, an innovator in image-guided medical technology, announce their partnership on image guidance for trauma surgery and related fields. The partnership will not only focus on research and development in image-guided surgery (IGS) but also on teaching and training surgeons using the AO expertise in surgical education.


Both partners will co-operate closely to further operating techniques and standards of care for trauma patients. From 2005 onwards, the AO will set up a worldwide teaching and training programme to introduce surgeons to the latest techniques in image-guided trauma surgery, based on BrainLAB navigation systems.

Stefan Vilsmeier, CEO of BrainLAB, stated: "The agreement with the AO truly is a milestone in BrainLAB's advancement of image-guided solutions for trauma patients. Education is the key to turn new technologies into safe and effective tools. Thanks to the worldwide network of the AO, which reaches over 12.000 surgeons each year with its sophisticated training programmes alone, many more doctors will obtain access to our technology. We are convinced that our joint efforts will result in surgeons operating with greater confidence, achieving improved clinical results and therefore even better care for patients."

Dr. Gregor Strasser, CEO of the AO Foundation, added: "We are delighted to have won BrainLAB as a partner in our aspiration to further the AO principles, practice, and result of fracture treatment through research, development, education, and quality assurance. The combination of the expertise of our surgeons with BrainLAB's core competency in navigation technology will enable us to achieve these goals."

Professor Dr. Christian Krettek, director of the Orthopaedic Trauma Department at the Hanover Medical School (MHH) and chairman of the AO Computer Assisted Surgery Expert Group (CSEG), explained: "Surgeons dealing with orthopaedic trauma currently face three major challenges. Firstly, although we do have excellent pre-operative image quality (plain film, CT, MRI), intra-operative image quality is often insufficient. This leads to problems with orientation and precision. Secondly, with the use of C-arms, we usually acquire redundant information, which leads to unnecessary radiation exposure for patients and clinical staff. Thirdly, despite several attempts to reduce invasiveness and approach-related tissue damage, significant soft tissue dissection is still necessary in order to judge and manipulate fragments for fracture reduction. It is my strong belief that with the use of computer navigation, all three of these problems can be significantly improved. The use of computer navigation will lead to better precision, less radiation and less invasiveness. This means improved patient safety and better outcomes."

Within the CSEG and under the direction of Professor Krettek, internationally renowned clinical centres will carry out the intra-operative assessment of this new technology. They will advance clinical studies on various areas of navigated surgery, especially trauma surgery, but also spinal and maxillo-facial surgeries with BrainLAB's VectorVision.

One of the leading research institutes on image guidance, the Institute for Surgical Technologies and Biomechanics (ISTB) at the University of Bern will further strengthen this partnership. Professor Dr. Lutz Nolte, director of the ISTB, explained: "We are convinced that in BrainLAB we found a highly competent industrial partner, who will enable an efficient transfer of knowledge and technology. With the network of our clinical partners, the AO, and the Swiss National Research Center CO-ME, we will have an ideal basis for the development of new, computer-based solutions for the planning, simulation and performance of trauma surgery."

The AO Foundation is a medically oriented non-profit organisation with international research and educational activities. Its mission is to promote medical advances and further improve patient care in the fields of trauma surgery, orthopedics and diseases of the musculosceletal system. Founded 1958 by 13 surgeons and orthopaedists and based in Davos, Switzerland, the AO is now one of the most important and extensive networks in the field of medicine, with more than 5000 surgeons engaged in AO activities worldwide. The AO Foundation primarily focuses their work on general trauma surgery, as well as specific areas of spinal, maxillo-facial, and veterinary surgery.

BrainLAB, a privately held company headquartered in Munich, Germany, was founded in 1989 and is specialized in the development, manufacture, and marketing of medical technology for radiosurgery and radiotherapy, orthopaedics, neurosurgery, and ENT. Among the products developed by BrainLAB are software and hardware components for image-guided surgery and radiotherapy as well as integrated systems for stereotactic radiosurgery. With about 3000 software applications on almost 1400 systems installed in over 60 countries, BrainLAB is among the market leaders in image-guided medical technology. BrainLAB today employs more than 580 people worldwide and has 15 offices across Europe, Asia, North and South America. For more information, you can read the VMW October 2004 article Improved treatment of bone fractures with BrainLAB's image-guided VectorVision trauma.

Leslie Versweyveld

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