Olympus agreed to distribute FlexDex’s (Brighton, Mich.) wrist-worn Needle Driver robotic device designed to simplify suturing in difficult-to-reach areas of the abdomen. Needle Driver has a three-axis gimbal that attaches to the surgeon’s wrist to control a series of mechanical components that translate the movement of the surgeon’s hand to the tip of the instrument, according to FlexDex.
The Needle Driver will work with Olympus’ 3D laparoscopic imaging technology as an alternative to the costs and constrictions associated with a robotic investment, according to Olympus Corporation of the Americas (Center Valley, Penn.).
“Combining Olympus’ expertise in minimally invasive surgery and 3D technology with FlexDex’s unique technology for handling surgical instruments — without the complexity and cost of a computer-aided robotic system — will be a game changer for physicians and patients,” said Randy Clark, group vice president of Olympus’ surgical division, in a prepared statement.
“Hospitals are constantly under pressure to reduce cost and improve patient outcomes,” said FlexDex CEO Dr. James Geiger. “Using a multi-million dollar robotic system for procedures that have low margins, often associated with fixed reimbursement, can potentially further burden providers financially. FlexDex and Olympus are uniquely positioned to offer surgeons the precision and control they desire while maintaining the balance of cost, outcome and patient benefit.”
Olympus dominates the endoscopic camera market. It is a global company with about 70% of its medical technology production in Japan and 30% elsewhere.
FlexDex was founded in 2014 to commercialize technology developed at the University of Michigan’s Precision Systems Design Lab. The National Science Foundation funded the research into parallel kinematics, virtual center of rotation, and flexure mechanisms. The Needle Driver may be used in several procedures, including hernia repairs, hysterectomies and prostatectomies, according to the company.