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Invention makes invisible blood flow visible during surgery

16 December 2022

Proper blood flow is important for the functioning of organs, the healing of wounds, and the prevention of complications. But how can a surgeon measure the quality of blood flow during surgery? PefusiX-Imaging should help answer this question. Wido Heeman, PhD student in Health & Food at the University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân, who is also working at LIMIS Development, has developed and tested the device that helps visualize tissue blood flow. Heeman was awarded a PhD for his research on 16 December and graduated cum laude.

'Until now, surgeons have had to use subjective markers to estimate the blood flow quality. But with PerfusiX-Imaging, which works on the basis of laser technology, they can rely on an objective image,' says Heeman. For his research, he collaborated with companies in the Northern Netherlands such as LIMIS Development, ZiuZ Visual Intelligence, and hospitals in the Northern Netherlands such as MCL, UMCG, and Nij Smellinghe.

Wido Heeman
Wido Heeman

Fewer complications

The PerfusiX-Imaging prototype was tested specifically on intestinal tissue. When operating on intestinal tumours, the tumour is removed and the two intestinal ends are re-joined. In about 7.5% of the operations, a complication occurs in which the sutures do not heal properly because of poor blood flow locally. This is called an anastomotic leak. With the help of blood flow images from the PefusiX-Imaging, the surgeon can suture at the most optimal location and thus avoid potential complications such as anastomotic leaks.

Promising results

The PerfusiX-Imaging was used during clinical studies conducted at the Medical Centre Leeuwarden and the Nij Smellinghe hospital in Drachten. These studies have shown that surgeons would have adjusted the location in 17% of the operations based on the PerfusiX-Imaging blood flow images. 'Further research is needed to determine whether PerfusiX-Imaging can prevent complications, but the current results are promising,' says Wido Heeman, who hopes the device will be launched on the market next year.

Wido Heeman (1994)

Wido Heeman studied Biomedical Engineering at the University of Groningen and started his PhD research at Campus Fryslân in 2018. He is currently working as Head of Surgical Innovation for LIMIS Development in Leeuwarden. The title of the thesis he defended on 16 December is 'Clinical translation of laser speckle contrast imaging'.

Wido Heeman after succesfully defending his dissertation
Wido Heeman successfully defended his dissertation
Last modified:26 January 2023 2.44 p.m.
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