We have heard a great deal about the Neograft automated system. This system has two components to it:
- A sharp drill that provides controlled torque. It is a manual system requiring a very skilled operator.
- An implanter is part of the Neograft system and it uses an implanter invented by Rassman (patent #8062322) that works nicely.
The advantage of the Neograft system is that an implanter is offered, which is not present in the ARTAS system. Traditional implantation with forceps requires specialized skills and the greatest cause for failure or death of the grafts occurs during the implantation process. The neograft implanter, can be used effectively by an inexperienced person, therefore it is relatively easier to learn when compared against the use of forceps. The inexperienced surgeon or technician will probably get better graft survival with the implanter. When compared with a skilled experienced technician’s competence with forceps, I suspect that the two techniques will be comparable.
The manual drill requires expertise, and with the unit as designed the grafts have a tendency to dry out, possibly killing them before they get implanted as they are held in a chamber that has a high hair movement in it. As discussed before, air kills grafts as they dry and this killing process may take only seconds when there is substantial air flow in graft held in a chamber. Neograft associates with a private group of technicians that perform much of the procedure for the unskilled doctor, creating the illusion that the doctor is skilled in the process. If these technicians drill out the follicular unit, they will violate the laws in most states. Most doctors who use the Neograft system depend upon the technician teams to do the actual transplant procedure.
Other drills are supplied by a variety of device manufacturers. Dr. Harris employs a dull drill and his device is amongst the most popular of the devices that are manually driven with great success. He offers training for doctors who purchase his system. Drills with sharp edges are many and they differ only marginally from each other. Extraction speed varies with each surgeon and each instrument. There is no substitute for skill, and the skills for all instruments on the market (other than the ARTAS system) requires possibly years to perfect. Speed of extraction depends upon the surgeon’s skills and it varies between 200-1200/grafts per hour on average. The damage to the grafts varies with the surgeon, so speed tells you little about the skills of the doctor as some doctors kill more than 50% of the grafts in the extraction process.