Prospects For Mems In Neurosurgery

The future of MEMS applications to the neurosurgical arena is immense. In fact, even the clinical employment of smart systems, the application of MEMS technology to the molecular biology arena, and the modification of cell growth via MEMS technology is imminently within reach. MEMS and related technologies can be utilized to enhance bone fusion, improve recovery following spinal cord and peripheral nerve injury, and for the management of patients with brain tumors and traumatic brain injury. The incorporation of MEMS devices into surgical robotics and navigation will enhance minimally invasive neurosurgery. Placement of sensors into operative tools for structural and physiological monitoring will minimize unnecessary damage to tissues while providing critical biological information. Ultimately, advances in the development of hybrid neural interfaces coupled with increased understanding at the cell/molecular biology level could lead to intriguing prospects for bionic integration [60]. What is readily achievable today is the monitoring of clinical parameters via minimally invasive means on a long-term basis [71].

The integration of MEMS technology into the medical milieu and the "neurosurgery milieu" faces many obstacles. Neurosurgeons must become more aware of the potential and limitations of MEMS technology. This effort will require educational initiatives that will bring together developers of MEMS technology with users in neurosurgery. For example, new training programs directed towards medical residents and research fellows will need to be established. In addition, comprehensive review articles and didactic textbooks must be written. The successful application of MEMS to the neurosurgical arena requires the merging of fields and disciplines, the merging of technologies and the collective gathering of expertise. Collegiality, communication, and significant investments will be required. Risks must be taken. However, the benefits derived will far outweigh the risk and the time and money invested.

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