We got the chance to interview surgeon Bryan Blaauw, who works at Elkerliek Medical Center in Helmond, the Netherlands. Bryan is a research partner in the “Sensing in Surgery” program of Delft University of Technology and is also active in testing and validating innovative medical instruments and devices.

What is your area of specialisation in medicine?

Dr. Blaauw: I am an orthopaedic hip and knee surgeon with an additional specialisation in trauma surgery. I was part of the first wave of surgeons in the Netherlands to implement the anterior approach for total hip arthroplasty and therefore, I have a keen interest in new tools and devices that allow me to optimise and improve orthopaedic procedures.

How long have you been a surgeon?

Dr. Blaauw: In 2015-2016 I finished my specialisation and moved to Helmond to become a partner in an existing partnership. Since then I have been working at Elkerliek Medical Center in Helmond.

Are you satisfied with the current surgical instruments in your field? In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that surgeons face regarding instrumentation?

Dr. Blaauw: I am not completely satisfied, which is partly driven by the fact that I am a highly innovative surgeon working on new approaches. I often need to use instruments developed for other procedures and feel that due to the limitations of the available instruments, I cannot perform optimally. This results in larger surgical sites than desired, and thus more tissue damage than needed in order to perform the procedure as best as possible for the patient.

What do you think about Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology? For you as a surgeon, what is the added value of these instruments?

Dr. Blaauw holds the Steerable Punch in his hands and comments: Wow, the longer I hold it, the more natural it feels. I appreciate that the handle is similar to the ones that are used already. I have to admit that the first thing that pops into my mind, when I hold the instrument, is workflow improvement: instead of changing instruments with different tip angles (as I often need to do), I can easily adjust the angle of the Steerable Punch for alignment with the tissue in seconds. Therefore, I think that the line of this instrument (i.e. steerable arthroscopy line) is very relevant to a fast and high-quality meniscectomy with minimal portal pressure.

In your opinion, do Surge-on Medical’s instruments help to solve the instrumentation challenges you are facing? How so?

Dr. Blaauw: For arthroscopy, I definitely see a direct need for the Steerable Punch. For their new developments in the line of steerable arthroscopic instruments, I think that the real benefits will be in shoulder and elbow arthroscopy, where you need to grasp and tense loose ligaments and the joint cuff (e.g. labrum) for suturing. You guys should develop a steerable fast-pass system for needle placement. That could be very beneficial.

What motivates you to try innovations such as the Steerable Punch for arthroscopy?

Dr. Blaauw: As a surgeon, you want the best for your patient. That is leading by far. If I have the opportunity to switch to an instrument that allows me to work with less workflow interruption, less force on the portals and shorter procedure time, I would definitely go for it. In addition, I think that better instrument beak alignment with the tissue translates into more accurate tissue removal. If that is the case, the patient benefits on multiple levels, and if the cost of one steerable instrument is less than that of a set of pre-bent instruments, there are multiple reasons for trying the Steerable Punch in practice.

Is there anything else you want to say about Surge-on Medical or about our products to the public?

Dr. Blaauw: For a starter, I think that there is no need for an up-biter instrument anymore, because having this extra hinge in your Steerable Punch is more than enough to position your beak around the menisci. However, you need to monitor surgeries all over the world to know this for sure.

It is the enthusiastic welcome that the Steerable Punch receives from innovative surgeons like Dr. Bryan Blaauw that lets us know that we are on the right track and that motivates us to keep developing more steerable instruments to empower surgeons. Next, we are going to present to you what an OR nurse thinks of our instruments. Stay tuned for Part 2 of “The Operating-Room Perspective”.

Are you also an innovative surgeon who would like to try the Steerable Punch, or do you have the need for a steerable instrument in your medical area? If so, let us know!

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