Among other recognitions, Dankelman is the recipient of the prestigious “Professor of Excellence Award 2019,” which was given to her for – among other things – her research methods in the field of innovative medical instruments for minimally invasive surgery and for the engaging and stimulating manner in which she supervises students.

Dr.ir. Tim Horeman, PhD, currently the CTO and Co-founder of Surge-on Medical, was lucky enough to be one of her grad students in 2007. It was through her guidance and support that Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology has gained traction through the years and has developed into the innovative products that are offered today.

What is your current position and how is it related to surgical instruments?

(Jenny Dankelman) My work focuses on minimally invasive surgery, flexible endoscopy, needle interventions and endovascular interventions. For years, we have been trying to improve minimally invasive interventions by developing instruments with more functions, making more surgical procedures possible. At this moment, we are also expanding our research to develop affordable and safe surgical instruments in low-resource settings.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges with current surgical instruments?

(Jenny Dankelman) The biggest challenge is to give the surgeons more possibilities while performing the minimally invasive approach. Therefore, the instruments need to have more functionalities, and at the same time the design solutions have to fit within a diameter of a few millimeters. Moreover, in order to achieve affordable solutions, the instruments should be easy to manufacture and disassemble/assemble for cleaning and sterilization purposes. Finding engineering solutions that fit all the requirements is a big challenge.

What has been your involvement in Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology?

(Jenny Dankelman) My involvement in their steerable technology itself was limited. I contributed by providing the researchers with the right environment so that they could come up with really innovative designs. I do that for example by giving feedback and advice, and by helping with grant applications.

What is your opinion about Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology? Does it help to overcome some of the current challenges in instrumentation, and how?

(Jenny Dankelman) The instruments based on Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology are unique since it is based on a simple concept and they can be easily assembled and disassembled and still have a very strong mechanism. I am not saying the instruments are easy to manufacture, but the concept can be used as a platform technology for several instruments that will benefit from a steerable tip. It also solves many of the challenges I have just mentioned.

Do you see market potential in their steerable platform technology?

(Jenny Dankelman) Yes, I certainly do, especially because I like the simplicity of the concept and that it can be used in handheld steerable instruments, such as the Steerable Punch.

What other applications can you foresee for Surge-on Medical’s steerable technology?

(Jenny Dankelman) Since the instruments are reusable, I foresee applications that fit the low-resource context. By combining steerable technology with, for example, a clip applier or sealing tip, new instruments can be developed, affording surgeons capabilities they currently do not have. Moreover, when they become reusable and handheld, they become more affordable also, so you get more functionality at a lower price.

 Is there anything else you’d like to share with the public about Surge-on Medical or their products?

(Jenny Dankelman) I would like to congratulate Surge-on Medical on the “Most innovative product” award from Germany – that is very special for a Dutch start-up company.

Do you want to know what other experts think about Surge-on Medical’s technology? Read all about a surgeon’s view here and a researcher’s take here. If you like what you read, join our journey and become part of Surge-on Medical!

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