Living in the digital age has granted us much comfort and convenience in our day to day lives. The use of medical technology has enabled the healthcare community to diagnose, treat and manage patients in a safer and more efficient manner. In this article, we introduce three up and coming medical technology projects by Singaporean research teams.

With PAKAD, the needle is systematically adjusted, guided and stabilised into alignment with the targeted kidney stone. (Photo credit: Calvin Hui/Channel News Asia)
With PAKAD, the needle is systematically adjusted, guided and stabilised into alignment with the targeted kidney stone. (Photo credit: Calvin Hui/Channel News Asia)

1. PAKAD promises to simplify kidney stone removal

Set to be a gamechanger in the field of urology, the Percutaneous-Access-to-Kidney-Assist Device (PAKAD) is the brainchild of a team from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), National University Hospital (NUH), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Invivo Medical.

It is aimed as an alternative method to traditional percutaneous-neprolithotomy (PCNL) by reducing X-ray exposure, risk of complications and quicken recovery time.

Traditional PCNL involves puncturing of the skin to access the kidney collecting ducts. The stone is then located and removed with x-ray guidance. This method is tedious, complex and imparts high risk of complications. PAKAD simplifies this procedure by using precision engineering mechanisms that aligns and adjusts the needle to the targeted stone with high accuracy.

“The new medical-device is the world’s first operational Percutaneous Access to Kidney Assist Device. It is the result of a successful collaboration by three institutions and the industry…. beyond this, we plan to do continual product development to apply the invention to more minimally-invasive surgical and biopsy procedures,” said Dr Joseph Chai, the director of Invivo Medical.

MindWorks, the set of six brain training games was launched on Tuesday (Aug 22) at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Ageing Symposium 2017, held on the school's campus in Tampines. (Photo credit: Temasek Polytechnic/Straits Times Singapore)
MindWorks, the set of six brain training games was launched on Tuesday (Aug 22) at Temasek Polytechnic's (TP) Ageing Symposium 2017, held on the school's campus in Tampines. (Photo credit: Temasek Polytechnic/Straits Times Singapore)

2. MindWorks to boost cognitive health of seniors

To keep senility at bay, a team of Japanese and Singaporean researchers have produced MindWorks, a set of brain training games that runs on Android platforms.

The set of six games began development since 2014, using feedback and data from 22 senior citizens and have been tested on a batch of 60 seniors, with the results still being evealuated. The games utilise timed matching, counting and sequencing tasks and are developed for those above 50 years of age.

MindWorks was built by students from Temasek Polytechnic with supervision from Professor Ryuta Kawashima, a neuroscientist and director of the Institute of Development, Ageing and Cancer at Tohoku University.

“"We have been developing an approach to maintain and improve the brain and mental health through interdisciplinary industry-academic collaborative research, so that we can overcome many of the problems related to a super-ageing society," quotes Professor Kawashima. Developers recommend 15 minutes of gameplay a day, for at least 3 to 5 times a week.

Associate Professor Jodhbir Mehta, head and senior consultant at SNEC's corneal and external eye disease department, with Mr Tan Beng Wee, who lived with pterygium for 30 years before going for Flaps last year. (Photo credit: Jonathan Choo/ Straits Times Singapore)
Associate Professor Jodhbir Mehta, head and senior consultant at SNEC's corneal and external eye disease department, with Mr Tan Beng Wee, who lived with pterygium for 30 years before going for Flaps last year. (Photo credit: Jonathan Choo/ Straits Times Singapore)

3. Say goodbye to surfer’s eye with FLAPS

Pterygium (also known as Surfer’s eye) is a benign growth of fleshy tissue that grows towards the iris from the corners of the eye and is commonly developed in those who are exposed to high levels of UV light. Those who spend lots of time around water are at an even higher risk as water reflects the sun’s harmful UV rays – hence the name surfer’s eye.

The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) has recently performed a new laser surgical technique called femtosecond laser-assisted pterygium surgery (FLAPS) to remove the pterygium – a world’s first.

The current gold standard of pterygium surgery is conjunctival autograft (CAG). CAG involves excising the pterygium and implanting a piece of the patients’ own conjunctiva onto the excised location requiring high levels of expertise and precision.

"When CAG is done manually, a considerable amount of skill is needed to cut an autograft as thin as possible and if it is too thick, chances of the pterygium recurring are much higher,” says Associate Professor Jodhbir Mehta, head and senior consultant at SNEC’s corneal and external eye disease department.

FLAPS on the other hand, uses lasers to harvest the conjunctival autograft, ensuring precise excision and virtually leaves no scar. However, it also costs S$200-300 more than current procedures.

More than 35 patients have received FLAPS procedures at SNEC, with only 3%-16% experiencing recurring pterygia. The procedure is hoped to be introduced to more hospitals next year. MIMS

Read more:
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Age-related blindness: How a revolutionary eye-drop can address the problem
Have kidney stones? Scientists vouch for rollercoaster rides as means to pass them

Sources:
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/team-of-ite-staff-develops-device-to-simplify-kidney-stones-9229462
https://biotechin.asia/2017/09/19/innovative-partnership-ite-nus-nuh-change-kidney-stones-removed/
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/kidney-stones/risk-factors.html?mcubz=1
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/poly-develops-cellphone-games-to-help-keep-dementia-at-bay
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/brain-training-game-launched-to-boost-seniors-cognitive-health
http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/new-laser-eye-op-can-ease-woes-of-many
http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/pterygium.htm