Do you suffer from chronic sinusitis? 3NT Medical have developed a highly advanced endoscope that allows access, visualization and treatment of the remote sinuses, in a minimally invasive manner. They have been doing their clinical evaluations together with the ear, nose and throat (ENT) team at Ghent University. The endoscope strongly improves patient care in the operation room and in post-operative follow-up and opens up a range of possibilities to better treat certain pathologies.
Chronic sinusitis is a very prevalent disease: more than 11% of the world population suffers from it. Surgery may help, but you need very good post-operative control and follow-up. This can only be done with a very effective endoscope.
Current endoscopes are rather large and too rigid to be used in the deeper parts of the sinuses; a large resection of tissue might be necessary to reach the less accessible parts of the sinuses.
The Israeli company 3NT Medical, founded in 2013 by Ehud Bendory, CEO, and his brother Eran, CTO, has developed an endoscope designed specifically for the nasal and sinus anatomy. They collaborate with Prof. Dr. Thibaut Van Zele and Prof. Dr. Philippe Gevaert, both ENT surgeons at Ghent University Hospital.
Single-use, flexible and small
Single-use endoscopy eliminates the risk of cross-contamination, which has become a real concern for hospitals." - Ehud Bendory
Thibaut Van Zele: “This endoscope facilitates inspection of all parts of the sinuses, which of course is very important during surgery, but also during follow-up after the surgery. It is especially vital for patients with a difficult anatomy, where the pathology is hidden in the deep corners of the sinuses.”
Ehud Bendory: “Today, high-quality, low-price image sensors are in every smartphone and have become a commodity. They are now available for medical use and enable single-use endoscopy. Single-use endoscopy eliminates the risk of cross-contamination, which has become a real concern for hospitals. We can now tailor each endoscope to the specific needs of the surgeon and the anatomy, creating a new class of procedure-altering endoscopes."
We were able to visualize almost 100% of the landmarks of the sinuses, compared to only 40% or 50% with a standard endoscope." - Thibaut Van Zele
Thibaut Van Zele: “The 3NT endoscope is much smaller compared to current endoscopes: it has a diameter of 2.3 mm instead of 4 mm. Those 1.7 mm make a big difference; it makes the procedure much less invasive. Also, it can turn sharply, almost on the spot, and then advances over the angulation. The endoscope can travel through small openings and visualize all the different landmarks in the sinuses. We tested it in several patients with chronic sinusitis and we were able to visualize almost 100% of the landmarks of the sinuses, compared to only 40% or 50% with a standard endoscope. This endoscope makes procedures less invasive and, when used in awake patients, less painful.
Another advantage of the endoscope emerges when sinus balloon dilation is applied. Most balloon procedures are done quite blind, but combined with 3NT’s endoscope, you can follow the balloon into the sinuses. This would make the procedure much safer and more informed.
The 3NT endoscope also has a small channel that allows cleaning of the endoscope and even irrigation of the sinus. We are discovering more and more indications and pathologies where this endoscope can be of use, possibly also in endoscopic skull base and tumor surgery.”
Two brothers sharing a passion
Ehud: “My brother and I like the ENT specialty and most importantly interacting with the ENT surgeons. We wanted to make a difference to them and create something new. When we started talking to ENT surgeons, the first thing we heard is that the sinus anatomy could not be visualized with existing endoscopes. Eran, who is a mechanical engineer, managed to build a device that is able to do just that."
We met Dr. Van Zele and Dr. Gevaert in April 2014 and started exploring and testing the new technology with them. Over the years, our professional work together developed into a real friendship, based on our mutual passion to make the ENT specialty better. There is an amazing synergy between us.
To start our company, we received funding from the Israeli government, angel investors and a Chinese venture capital firm. Earlier this month, HOYA Corporation also joined as an investor. They invested a large portion of our $15 million financing round, allowing us to bring the endoscope to the market. The clinical version of the endoscope has been tested extensively and we are now perfecting the commercial product. It will be available on the market in early 2019.”