Mark Carol, MD is the CEO of SonaCare – a radical surgery technology company. He started as a neurosurgeon and became widely known as the “father of IMRT” as well a a household name in Radiation Oncology. Dr. Carol is also an avid soccer player.
Dr. Carol joined our TFSS video podcast from Charlotte, North Carolina to talk to us about SonaCare’s prostate treatment technology. Its device was recently cleared by the FDA for use in the US and may soon replace DaVinci’s robotic prostate surgeries. The procedure could save the US up to 6 billion over the next 5 years and foreshadows the face of surgery in coming years.
Future of Surgery: Prostate treatment today is where breast treatment was 20 years ago
Dr. Carl explains, “20 years ago…if a woman had breast cancer, she would come in and get a mastectomy no questions asked.”
“Nowadays approximately 80% of women who received surgery for breast cancer receive a lumpectomy.”
Meanwhile Sonablate (SonaCare’s technology), enables focal ablation which allows destroying only the portion of the prostate that may have undesirable tissue. By doing so, it greatly reduces morbidity as well as long and short term side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
“One of the things that people fail to appreciate about prostate surgery (prostatectomy) is that people who get a prostatectomy are out of work four to six weeks on average.”
“With our technology, they walk out of the hospital with their disease under control and the high likelihood that they will have no side effects. They’re able to go back to work the next day. They’re able to dance and play golf and ride their bike the next day.”
Sonablate – a taste of the future of surgery
The Sonablate procedure is a two-step process. The first step is physical and requires inserting and correctly positioning the device. The second step is virtual and requires learning to manipulate controls and objects on the computer screen, like a video game. This makes it tantalizingly conducive to telesurgery. The surgeon could potentially be anywhere to perform the procedure – she needs only to be able to access a computer.
Is the Future of Surgery with Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox?
According to Dr. Carol, telesurgery (or tele-intervention in the old days) would have meant some kind of sophisticated mechanical device, like the DaVinci robotic arm, that a surgeon could control remotely. Therefore to do telesurgery you needed a sophisticated (and expensive) device.
But today more and more interventions in medicine are being done through software and computer-driven systems.
So to do telesurgery and even surgery today, Dr. Carol surmises, “it requires a comfort, flexibility, and willingness to interface with the computer directly as opposed to interfacing through the patient, as well as comfort with video games.”
“It sounds like a joke, but we find that the young surgeons that we’re dealing with are much more adept at learning our technology and comfortable with interacting with the computer screen and making adjustments and moving things around on a computer screen.”
VSee a Key Component to Spreading Surgical Innovation
However, just like learning to play a video game, learning to use Sonablate requires a time and training that busy physicians don’t have. This is where VSee comes in. It allows SonaCare to individually provide virtual demos, trainings, telesurgical consults and even to sit in on live procedures – without having to convince physicians to take days off from their busy practices or to fly reps out to give a demo.
Have questions about how SonaCare addresses medical legal concerns like liability and privacy?
Or whether SonaCare’s focal ablation procedure be used for cases outside of the prostate?
What has been most effective in getting patients and providers to adopt its new technology?
You can hear more of Dr. Carol’s insights from our full video podcast here.