Breast cancer surgery with the help of magnets

3T in Enschede, maker of customer-specific electronics and embedded systems, is doing well. The company has doubled in size to 80 people in the past two years, came third in the Medium Region East category at the Financieele Dagblad’s FD Gazellen Award 2020 and got through to the second round of the Best Knowledge Supplier Award in DISCA’20.

‘Sirius Medical knew what it wanted and left us completely free to fill it in ourselves.’ The device is now available. Photo Sirius Medical

That’s all at the front side. In the background, the company makes all kinds of “beautiful and noble products”, says CEO Richard Mijnheer. For example, as co-developer of the Sirius Pintuition System, a device with which breast cancer operations can be performed in a cosmetically better way. The device – the first positive medical results of which were reported in October – is an idea of Sirius Medical, a spin-off from the Netherlands Cancer Institute. “We are responsible for the entire electronics,” says Richard Mijnheer.

Traditionally, a tumor during breast cancer surgery is marked with a type of thread by the radiologist. The surgeon uses the marker to cut to the tumor. “But it is not always certain whether the doctor is taking the correct route to the tumor and therefore not whether it is done in a good cosmetic way,” says Mijnheer. “With the Sirius Pintuition System, a tiny magnetic seed (packed in titanium) is inserted into the tumor with a needle. Then a small cut is made in the chest, where the surgeon inserts a small rod. It detects the magnetic field and thus helps the surgeon to operate. The result: a cosmetically better operation, with more breast-saving surgery. ”

Sirius Medical’s CEO knew 3T and first came up with the idea in Enschede a few years ago. Whether they could develop the electronics. 3T could do that. In 2018 there was a first proof of concept. “All in all, it was quite difficult,” says Mijnheer. “Because how should you detect and interpret the magnetic field? Ultimately, with the help of a third party, we were able to set up the mathematical algorithms necessary for the correct position determination. “The screen of the device shows how many millimeters the rod is from the magnetic seed. 3T was given a free hand in developing the electronics, and that is sometimes different. “Sirius Medical knew what it wanted and left us completely free to fill it in ourselves.” The device is now available. But the name of 3T – seen from the publicity point of view – is not connected to it. “We work in the background. And that’s fine, “says Mijnheer.

Source: Link Magazine December 2020 – edition 6 – year 22