POWEREASE™ Surgical Instrument System for Medtronic

A next-generation system of medical tools for spine surgery

Medtronic’s advanced medical technologies help people to live better, longer lives. A pioneer in minimally invasive spinal surgery techniques, the company partnered with IDEO to design, engineer, and build a next-generation surgical instrument system that revolutionizes the techniques used to perform spinal surgeries. The result is a system of powered medical tools created specifically to meet the needs of surgeons during reconstructive procedures. The system is used for drilling, tapping, driving and assembling specialized implants during surgery. These tools are designed to improve the comfort, control, and speed of surgeons and their staff.

Reconstructive spinal surgeries can be life-changing operations for patients with severe spinal deformity, degeneration, or traumatic injury. However, even minimally invasive spinal procedures can require hours under anesthesia for patients and be physically demanding for surgeons and their staff. Some surgical tasks require delicate, repetitive movements such as drilling, tapping, and driving specialized implants into bone. Others require great strength to cut metal rods or break ‘set’ screws. Over time, the repetitive physical strain can limit the ability of highly skilled orthopedic surgeons to perform these surgeries.

To design and engineer more advanced surgical tools that lessen physical strain and enhance surgeon control, the IDEO and Medtronic team began by observing orthopedic surgeons in the operating room. The team developed a key framework that describes the interplay between the required strength, skill, and time throughout various stages of surgery, and identified areas of focus that would have the greatest impact.

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Project date: 2012