Lab Evaluation of Zeiss Robotic Neurosurgery Microscope

Laboratory evaluation* of a new generation of robotic operative microscope, the Zeiss Kinevo 900, finds that it provides a number of improvements over its predecessor.


Operative microscopes have become fundamental to the success of modern neurosurgical and other surgical specialty procedures that they are requisite for a modern standard of care. Operative microscopes have become active platforms for the development of improved user-control interfaces and robotic systems.

A one-year study was recently conducted to perform a comprehensive assessment of the new, cutting-edge ZEISS KINEVO 900, a first-ever Robotic Visualization System® and compares its performance to the previous model of ZEISS surgical microscope. This study was carried out in a neurosurgery research laboratory. The assessment covered robotic, exoscopic, endoscopic and fluorescence functionalities. The study found that the KINEVO 900 provides a number of improvements over the previous surgical microscope:

Several novel robotic functions integrated into the KINEVO 900 were found to provide improved ergonomics, with a potential to increase the viewing quality of neurosurgical procedures, including the illumination and visualization. Examples include the “PositionMemory” and “PointLock” functions which were found likely to be helpful in procedures requiring small bone windows. Additionally, there is no need to constantly adjust the parameters of the microscopic visualization during surgery. Considering that up to 40% of total surgery duration is spent adjusting the microscope, this technology could serve to decrease operative time.

The 3D 4K Digital Hybrid Visualization of ZEISS KINEVO 900 was found to be a significant improvement over prior technology. With the exoscopic visualization mode and long working distance, the entire operative room team can appreciate the detailed structures in the depth of surgical corridor. Furthermore, the 3D widescreen exoscopic view increases educational value. The study found that it was feasible to perform microvascular suturing and other microsurgical manipulations when the KINEVO 900 was used as an exoscopewith the 3D view.

Other notable improvements found with the KINEVO 900 over the previous ZEISS system include improved intraoperative fluorescence visualization. The KINEVO 900 provides better discrimination between the fluorescent signal and the surrounding area by means of a significantly improved perception of brain and blood colors. Non-fluorescent tissues appeared much brighter and more natural in color with the KINEVO 900 digital display and slightly brighter through oculars compared to the previous system.

The KINEVO 900 provided a novel augmented reality ICG overlay function, better image resolution, and improved post-processing workflow for quantification of the flow compared to the previous ZEISS systems. FLOW® 800 was shown to be clinically beneficial to detect ischemic brain regions, differentiation of the feeders and draining vessels in arteriovenous malformations and quantitative evaluation of microanastomosis patency. This study showed that ICG angiography was sensitive enough to assess blood flow even in small vessels less than 1 mm diameter with similar quantitative results.

Fully integrated endoscopic Micro-Inspection Tool and benefits: Endoscope assistance in microscope-operated intracranial surgeries offers an additional visualization of the deep structures. However, endoscope assistance is limited by a decrease or at least significant impediments in maneuverability when compared with using the operative microscope. The KINEVO 900 is a robotic visualization platform that solidifies integration of microscopic and exoscopic visualization with a micro-inspection angled endoscope. This fully integrated Micro-Inspection Tool, QEVO, allowed inspection of areas around the resection cavity. The combination of two views in a picture-in-picture format enables a safer and efficient way to perform endoscope assisted procedures

The Micro-Inspection Tool, QEVO enabled in identifying blind spots to resect hidden portions of the cavernous malformation. The post-operative imaging confirmed a gross total resection and the patient was observed returning back to full strength one month after the surgery.

Zeiss concludes that “the improvements made in the KINEVO 900, along with the fully integrated endoscopic Micro-Inspection Tool, are significant.”

Its release states that “These improvements will influence ergonomics, precision, efficiency, viewing quality, and educational value of surgical procedures, providing that surgeons receive suitable training in its optimal use.”

Investigator comments

While welcoming the improvements built into the new system the authors close their study with a cautionary comment: “Although technologically exciting, these visualization platforms are becoming relatively complicated as they offer more functionality, which could lead to frustration or misuse. With the increasing number and complexity of functions of this new generation of surgical microscopes, it is apparent that surgeons should receive additional training in order to avoid underutilization and to avail themselves of the advantages of the numerous novel features.”

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*Citation: Original title: Laboratory Evaluation of a Robotic Operative Microscope – Visualization Platform for Neurosurgery

Authors: Evgenii G. Belykh, Xiaochun Zhao, Claudio Cavallo, Michael A. Bohl, Kaan Yagmurlu, Joseph L. Aklinski, Vadim A. Byvaltsev, Nader Sanai, Robert F. Spetzler, Michael T. Lawton, Peter Nakaji, Mark C. Preul

Source: 2018 Belykh et al. Cureus 10(7): e3072. DOI 10.7759/cureus.3072

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