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8 August 2017

What springs to mind when you think about the science of big things? Perhaps the ‘Big Bang’ [the cosmological model for the universe], or perhaps the most ambitious experiments in the universe

In the area of medical technology – ‘big things’ apply to breakthroughs in research, new technology and importantly positive outcomes for patients. Technology can be big in scale as well.

In most modern operating rooms around Australia, the largest piece of medical equipment is for imaging. Every day, physicians in neurosurgery, orthopaedics, trauma surgery, and also in ENT use intra-operative imaging to help achieve their objectives. The technology can be used before, during and after surgery to provide better insight to a patient’s skeletal anatomy.

When developing the road map toward development of capital equipment like this; thousands of decisions are made, and essential design criteria is determined. In this case; patient safety, image quality, sterility and ease of use in the operating room are critical.

Even when the technology is developed, teams of scientists and engineers continue to make improvements to software and hardware.

A ‘big’ deal in surgery is exposure to radiation for patients and clinicians. Developments to navigation technology offers multiple image protocols allowing flexibility to minimise radiation to staff and patients based on the clinical objectives.

Here are facts on the ‘biggest’ piece of equipment at Medtronic:

  • The equipment weighs approximately 864kg
  • The equipment can store approximately 20,000 2-D images; or 750 3D scans on hard disk
  • The equipment is 2 metres tall and almost 2.5 metres wide.
  • During procedures, the equipment wraps itself around the patient to provide real-time, 2D or 3D imaging that reveals what is happening inside of the body and aids in guiding hardware into position precisely.

This National Science Week we want to celebrate science, the difference it makes to the community, provide stories about some of our inventions and introduce you to members of our team. You can share your stories below, or on twitter. Tag #medtechscience, #natsciwk

MEET A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM:  Melita ChagasMedtronic Macquarie-000297

Role: Senior Product Manager, Navigation and Imaging

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science (Biomed. Sci.), Grad. Cert. Professional Management

Tenure with Medtronic: Four years

In your mind, what is impressive about the science of big things? Big things like the navigation system have presence and wow factor, being able to merge multiple types of images of the brain on a large high resolution touch screen to create a story and to help surgeons make critical decisions while operating is impressive stuff.

What did you enjoy most about studying science? I was studying right at the time when the Human Genome Project (i.e. the sequencing of the entire human genome) was being finalised. The HGP was a defining moment in science history and that made Biomedical Science such an exciting field to be in.  I also made lifelong friends while studying science.

What are the key learnings you have applied in your personal and professional life? Studying science teaches you how to think logically.   One of the questions I learned to ask as a science student in one of my very first lectures was “What causes that?” Keep going with that until you think you are at your endpoint.  It is such a useful question and way of thinking not just for scientists, but something that you can use in both your personal and professional life.

Women in STEM – what’s your opinion? It is well-documented that women bring a different skill-set to the table when it comes to the workplace.  By creating a better balance and tapping into more of these skills, imagine what could be achieved in STEM!

What is your advice to future scientists? Studying science opens doors.  Never underestimate which direction your science background could take you in.

To learn more about National Science Week visit

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