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Origin and objectives

In a nutshell, ICCAS’s goal is to enable today’s operating theaters to benefit from the rapid developments in information and communications technology. The operating room is one of the most expensive and labor-intensive departments in a hospital. It’s a place where tightly organized procedures, complex information processing, and being able to handle a wide range of state-of-the-art medical equipment all play a vital role.

ICCAS’s research work is geared to providing surgeons with ideal working conditions. New types of information technology and practical aids based on standardized formats are forged in order to improve the quality and speed of operations and reduce the strain on medical personnel. Moreover, digital patient and decision-making models are designed to ensure that the enormous amounts of data recorded about patients and their treatment can be efficiently analyzed and harnessed to enable accurate diagnosis and effective therapy.

ICCAS’s vision is to develop a “Surgical Cockpit” – a comprehensive assistance system that monitors all the workflows in the operating room, analyzes information, and supports decision-making and the implementation of treatment.


Research is carried out in five research areas entitled Model-based Automation and Integration (MAI), Digital Patient- and Process Model (DPM), Multimodal Intraoperative Imaging, Computer Assisted Image Guided Interventions and Life Support Systems. The scope of research is widened by externally funded projects.

Close cooperation between computer scientists, engineers and surgeons is essential for development work. In this respect, ICCAS benefits from its affiliation to Universität Leipzig and Leipzig University Hospital. Prototypes and products are developed to market needs in conjunction with collaboration partners from science and industry. The implementation of scientific innovations is supported by ICCAS’s very own state-of-the-art concept operating room.


Young academics are supported with courses in computer-assisted surgery at Universität Leipzig and the Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK). Teaching is aimed at students of computer science who are interested in the use of IT in surgery as well as aspiring physicians interested in computer-assisted surgery. ICCAS also suggests and supervises dissertations in computer-assisted surgery for BSc, MSc and PhD students, and offers placements to students of computer science and engineering. Every year the Digital Operating Room Summer School (DORS) takes place at ICCAS. Here, interested parties from all over the world can extend their knowledge of developing surgical assistance systems for the modern operating room.


Thanks to its outstanding approach to research, ICCAS rapidly developed into a leading international research center in computer-assisted surgery during its very first funding period (2005–10). Initially, work concentrated on extensive analyses of workflows and processes in the operating room. This enabled ICCAS to amass substantial, unique expertise in the areas of surgical workflow modeling, data format standardization and software system integration. In addition, the groundwork was laid for the creation of innovative support systems while prototypes of smart assistance systems were developed and clinically tested. In 2007, ICCAS made the leap from science to industry with the two spin-offs Phacon GmbH and SWAN GmbH.

ICCAS went on to broaden both its scope and its international research network in the second funding phase (2011–16). It operates regionally as a scientific initiator of the Leipzig Medical Research Cluster, which is reflected for instance in cooperation with Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (HTWK) and the International Reference Centre for Surgical Technology (IRDC). ICCAS has become a leading authority in model-based surgical assistance, standardization in surgery, and the development of patient and process models in oncology.

Since 2011, ICCAS has participated in OR.NET – a joint project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research. It’s responsible for coming up with the technical methods needed to create a uniform communication standard allowing medical equipment made by different manufacturers to be networked in the operating theater.

ICCAS’s clinical information system oncoflow, which has been successfully used at Leipzig University Hospital since 2013, recently received an award as one of the outstanding health IT products of 2014 in the German-speaking countries.

Research on film

For a more vivid account of ICCAS’s current project work on computer-assisted surgery, check out its Research Video Journal. The short videos give a concise insight into individual research projects. The Journal is aimed in particular at people with no experience of computer-assisted surgery.

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