One of the ambitious goals of the WFNS Foundation is the provision of neurosurgical equipment to developing areas. One of the most requested technologies is of course the Picomicroscope of Zeiss. Over the last 20 years, Zeiss generosity has been allowing WFNS Foundation to buy these equipments at a very low price. The donation of such a wonderful microscope has made a reality the dream of many young neurosurgeons to perform Microneurosurgery.

The name of Zeiss is linked to the history of Neurosurgery. Tell us something about the history of Zeiss.

ZEISS has always strived to be a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery, by providing market-shaping visualization systems, solutions and technologies.  Products that have had an especially strong influence on neurosurgical evolution include:

  • 1953: 1st Surgical Microscope, the OPMI 1
  • 1976: 1st “Contraves” microscope stand, allowing highly flexible, effortless positioning
  • 1994: 1st Navigation-integrated, augmented reality, robotic system, the MKM
  • 1998: 1st Neurosurgical Cockpit, the OPMI Neuro / NC4 MultiVision
  • 2004: 1st fully integrated Surgical Microscope platform, with fluorescence visualization of vascular and tumour anatomy, the OPMI Pentero
  • 2017: 1st Robotic Visualization System, the ZEISS KINEVO 900

1953: OPMI

2017: ZEISS KINEVO 900


ZEISS has contributed over many years to the improvement in neurosurgical care in developing countries collaborating with WFNS Foundation. Are you proud of this partnership?

We are very proud of our long-standing partnership with the WFNS.  Beyond supporting many teaching courses and programs via WFNS member societies, there is one very special initiative I would like to mention.  Back in 2001 Professor Majid Samii approached me, prior to the upcoming World Neuro Congress in Sydney, with the idea of supporting neurosurgeons, with limited funds in developing countries, by providing them with a Surgical Microscope as a donation through the WFNS. Together we defined a suitable model and configuration, optimized for teaching and performing microsurgical procedures.  Since then we have provided this special version of the OPMI pico, via a donation request to the WFNS, to doctors and clinics all over the world. So far, we have distributed 50 units around the globe. I believe this support really helped promote neuromicrosurgery in developing countries and therefore provided urgently required care to patients in need. We see this ongoing engagement as part of our social responsibility.

The collaboration of WFNS and ZEISS started already 20 years ago

The collaboration of WFNS and ZEISS started already 20 years ago

What is the secret to become one of the world acclaimed leaders in surgical microscopes?

Since its founding by Carl Zeiss in 1846, ZEISS has had a 175 year history of pushing the boundaries in optics, precision mechanics and the understanding our users’ needs and applications. This unique combination, and our strong relationships with teaching institutions and universities around the world, have essentially become part of our DNA.

In neurosurgery, we have always focused on maintaining very close contacts and partnerships with leading and visionary surgeons in support of their dedicated and complex work.  This has led to many powerful solutions, such as those mentioned earlier.  While I, unfortunately, cannot mention them all here, allow me to provide two well-known examples: our collaboration with Prof. Yasargil in realizing his vision of a free-floating neuro microscope, controlled by a mouthpiece; and Prof. Raabe, whose idea of an integrated ICG fluorescence tool soon became the standard of care in neurovascular microsurgery.

Application image description:

Aneurysm clipping using ICG and overlay

Application image courtesy of:

Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Raabe, Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, Switzerland

Tell us something about the new projects of ZEISS with regard to neurosurgery.

Our latest innovation in neuromicrosurgery is ZEISS KINEVO 900 – the first Robotic Visualization System. It combines Digital Hybrid Visualization, QEVO – the unique Micro-Inspection Tool – and Surgeon-Controlled Robotics. The three-in-one solution merges the functionalities of a surgical microscope, with an ocular-free digital 4K / 3D exoscope and endoscopic in-situ images, to gain greater certainty, while using robotics to reduce manual effort in a unique new way. In 2020 it was named one of three “Best of the Best” when it was nominated for the highly prestigious German Zukunftspreis.

QEVO – the Micro-Inspection Tool

In 2019 the ZEISS Tumor Workflow was launched, in which the latest leading technologies from ZEISS came together to weave a solution for delivering tumor treatment. This unique approach combines navigation-guided surgeon-controlled robotic alignment and surgical visualization with real-time feedback on tissue microstructure, through digital pathology consultation, and intraoperative radiotherapy, together covering several steps of the surgical workflow with a unique treatment approach.

ZEISS will continue to innovate in the field of neurosurgery by providing unique, connected digital visualization solutions. The goal is to further free up surgeons from manual and time-consuming system interactions allowing for a better focus on the treatment and making their life easier. Multimodal imaging, Cloud computing and AI are topics that will support this.

ZEISS Tumor Workflow

How do you see the world through the ZEISS viewers?

The world is changing quickly and we at ZEISS strive to be global innovation leaders, doing everything we can to continually shape the markets we are in. ZEISS innovations have and continue to play an essential role in their respective segments. Whether it is enabling brand new chip technology, that can be found in the latest iPhones and Samsung phones, helping people see better through spectacle lenses or allowing doctors to treat their patients with the best tools at their side, ZEISS is a strong partner for our customers in their industries.

We are not just about optics and have developed into a technology company that is driven by many high-tech approaches, including software and AI.  This approach helps us continue to shape the world of today. Our unique set-up as a foundation allows us to not only invest heavily into new innovation, more than most other companies in our field but also to work with organizations such as the WFNS in enabling physicians across the globe to access our technology. As mentioned above, this started when we collaborated on the OPMI pico WFNS with Prof. Samii and continues today. We see a big interest from all markets in our solutions.  As an example, this was demonstrated by the great attendance at the recent virtual WFNS Foundation ACNS Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Uzbekistan Joint Web Seminar 2020 meeting. The interest in the KINEVO 900 and the ZEISS Tumor Workflow showed that doctors from around the world are keen on the latest technology and together we work hard to make it accessible.

The collaboration with the WFNS is very important to us and we very much appreciate the close relationship we were able to foster, throughout the years, with the leadership and the doctors who are part of the foundation.