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New Tianjin University system dramatically improves surgery | Updated: 2019-09-03 14:54

New Tianjin University system dramatically improves surgery

The shape of things to come: the on-line integrated diagnosis and treatment system known as Tianmu. [Photo provided to]

An on-line integrated diagnosis and treatment system developed by Tianjin University makes optimized plans for surgical operations immediately ready after a CT scan, according to university officials.

They said the application of the system, called the Tianmu system, will dramatically increase the accuracy of clinical fracture surgeries and the efficiency of diagnoses and treatments.

University officials said the results were even more significant, as traumatic fractures become an increasingly serious social problem with car accidents and with an ever-growing aging population.

It is estimated that annually the number of patients internationally suffering from lower limb fractures exceeds 20 million.

In addition, problematic surgeries or rehabilitation of lower limb fractures can lead to motor dysfunction and severe disabilities.

University officials said the Tianmu system improves accuracy compared with traditional methodology, where a doctor determines the operation by consulting an X-ray.

The other problem is that doctors are also required to master the technique of measuring a dozen indicators from the patient, which demands a long period of study and greatly affects surgical efficiency.

By contrast, the new system can directly use the CT image information to reconstruct it into a 3-D model and then extract key data from that model. These processes are all completed in a flash by utilizing the computer's 'brain', sparing doctors complex calculations.

University officials said is also simpler to operate. Doctors just need to open the web page and input the 3-D CT data of patients and then the system will automatically work out the optimum position for operating.

To date, the Tianmu system has provided data support for 45 clinical operations at Tianjin Hospital in Tianjin University.

"Having analyzed the several dozen clinical operations performed with Tianmu, we found that compared with its foreign counterparts, the system increases the accuracy of the operation by 40 percent and efficiency by 60 percent," said Zhang Tao, chief physician of the Department of Orthopedics at Tianjin Hospital.

Dr Zhang said the idea of the Tianmu system originated in 2017 with Yan Wei, a master’s degree student at the School of Mechanical Engineering at Tianjin University. Several years ago, he accidentally witnessed a doctor in his fifties standing for over two hours, holding a ruler to find the operation position and to make measurements on the X-ray of a patient.

"What a doctor specializes in is diagnosis and treatment," he said.

"Developing a system that can liberate doctors from precise measurements and calculations is bound to improve the efficiency of treatment and benefit both doctors and patients.”

Having had the idea, Yan turned for help to his supervisor, Professor Sun Tao, at the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Sun brought Yan to the leading orthopedic hospital in Tianjin to consult orthopedists on the front line.

Yan then proceeded to make a great efforts to learn the unfamiliar field.

"We observed many operations. To test the navigation module in the system, we applied to the hospital for cadaver experiments," Professor Sun said.

"Some students became sick at the sight of blood. They were scared, but no one left."

Through the relentless efforts of the teachers and students, the Tianmu system was ultimately born.

"The system is like a brain which can remotely provide automatic diagnostic support for orthopedists." Sun said. He added that the merit of Tianmu was not only that it was highly efficient and accurate, but also that it was convenient and easily used.

This summer Tianjin Gukang Medical Equipment Company Limited -- registered by Yan and several students -- was formed.

It will focus on developing the robotic system for integrated operations and the rehabilitation of lower extremity fractures in the future. "The robot system will be smarter and more automatic," Yan said.

"A new age of smart medical robots won't be far off.”

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