ISCAS AWARD Winners 2017 : Juan Ansó

My name is Juan Ansó, and I work as a postdoctoral researcher at the ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research at the University of Bern (Switzerland). My research focuses on investigating and validating novel intraoperative neuromonitoring safety paradigms for nerve preservation during application of image-guided and/or robotic surgery. From 2010 to 2013, my work focused on assessing state of the art intraoperative neuromonitoring systems (e.g. StimBur, Medtronic) for application during robotic surgery in the lateral skull base. Later, during the start of my PhD (2013-2015), we developed a multipolar stimulating probe and neuromonitoring protocol and demonstrated submillimeter nerve distance estimation based on stimulation and neuromonitoring (Ansó et al. 2016).

Since then, we are working on the implementation of a first clinical trial using neuromonitoring during robotic cochlear implantation (RCI). To date, a total of five patients have been operated on using our RCI system and neuromonitoring approach, with successful electrode implantation and safe postoperative confirmation of facial nerve function in all cases. Currently, our primary goal at ARTORG and University Hospital of Bern is to continue towards the completion of the first-in-man RCI study, with 8-10 patients treated on study. In parallel, my main research projects are: 1) integration of electrodes in surgical tools, 2) in-vivo validations of intraoperative neuromonitoring systems and approaches, 3) new paradigms of intraoperative neuromonitoring and tool tracking based on bio-physical impedance sensing. Furthermore, I collaborate on the leadership of the surgical robotics group at the Image Guided Therapy (IGT) department, leaded by Prof. Stefan Weber, supervising co-workers, writing grants and recruiting new employees. If you are interested in knowing more about RCI, here are some interesting articles and videos: Science Daily, Popular Science, Wired Magazine, AAAS Science Robotics.

A few thoughts related to the ISCAS conference this year in Barcelona, and some others:

I appreciated the talk of Prof. Webster (Vanderbilt University) and the nice general ambient and reception at the conference venue. What I missed and have been missing since I started participating at the CARS or ISCAS conference is presentations related to my research focus (neuromonitoring and biophysical sensing for image guided and robotic surgery). Somehow, no one seems to be interested in investigating this, or at least none of those who might be doing research on the topic seem to come to the conference. Either we try something too complicated or too trivial…?

  • Does somebody at the ISCAS community know the reason for this?

Finally, I would appreciate if there would be less 15 minutes presentations during the conference and more focused discussions (round tables) among groups doing similar types of research (e.g. lateral skull base navigation, spine surgery, functional neurosurgery, minimally invasive cochlear implantation, etc.).

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