Sandra von Sachsen is an IT expert. The ICCAS scientist is standing in the ultra-modern demonstration operating room. A clear blue light shines down from the ceiling and a torso with exposed cervical vertebrae lies on the operating table. Von Sachsen is currently conducting research into medical conditions that affect the neck and upper spine, such as those caused by slipped discs. She and her team aim to develop a computer model that can identify and categorise the most common defects of the upper spinal column. “Think of it as an algorithm that is capable of translating computer or MRI scanner images into a diagnosis,” she explains. The model is intended to help doctors make an accurate, fast diagnosis in future. “The model won’t replace the doctor, of course, because software will never be able to simulate that experience and knowledge,” says von Sachsen.
Expanding the limits of human motor functions
“Since the ICCAS was established in 2005, our mission has been to find even better ways of using computer technology to support doctors,” says Professor Jürgen Meixensberger, neurosurgeon and former director of ICCAS. “We want to use computers to analyse and present individual patient data, such as laboratory results, CT scans and MRT images,” continues Meixensberger, who is originally from Franconia. “We call it the patient model.” It also includes Sandra von Sachsen’s project. In addition, the researchers are seeking to expand the limits of human motor functions using assistance systems to help surgeons find the best ways of entering the body during operations, using options in head and neck surgery previously considered too risky, for example.