"The future of surgery is not about blood and guts; the future of surgery is about bits and bytes.”
/Dr. Richard Satava/

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Report on the First Surgical Robot Challenge

A nice report appeared in the IEEE RAM recently by Robert Merrifield and Guang-Zhong Yang about the first Surgical Robot Challenge organized at Hamlyn 2015.
"The first international Surgical Robot Challenge took place in London, United Kingdom, 17–21 June 2015. During the challenge, 18 teams from around the world took part in the finals of the competition that was held as part of the Hamlyn Symposium for Medical Robotics. The competition saw a broad range of high-quality entries showcasing hardware and software innovations in surgical robotics. All but two of the entries were based on the open research platforms dVRK, KUKA, and Raven II. The competition was supported by Intuitive Surgical, KUKA, and Applied Dexterity. Each team had 3 h to set up their robot kit and give a live demonstration. They then had to present their platforms to a judging panel of both academic and industrial leaders in surgical robotics. Prizes were awarded in five categories: best design, best innovation, best application, best live demo, and best video. From these, the judging panel chose an overall winner. The total prize fund was US$10,000. The winning team, T. Looi, K. Eastwood, V. Bodani, K. Price, K. Upadhyaya, D. Podolsky, H. Azimian, P. Bowlin, W. Farhet, and J. Drake, from the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada, presented a new concentric tube robot (video: A Concentric Tube Tool for the daVinci Research Kit). Concentric tube robots have shown advantages over conventional continuum robots in terms of size and articulation. They utilize a series of curved nitinol tubes that pass through one another. Using linear and rotational actuation of each tube with computer control, it is possible for the tip of the robot to have a large three-dimensional (3-D) workspace. The innovation presented by the winning team is in their design and interface with the popular daVinci surgical robot, uniquely combining the strength of both platforms. This entry also won the Best Design Award." Read more in the RAM article!

Get ready for the 2016 edition!

Source: IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine

Friday, February 5, 2016

Medtronic Covidien's robot

Still nothing is sure about the launch of the next big player's system, but experts talk about something coming from Medtronic soon (Q2-Q3 2016). Rumor has it, their solution is based on an existing platforms that is engineeringly very capable, and able to get around Intuitive's swarm of patents. 
"Lastly, Almeida touted Covidien's robotics research, saying, "It is a program we have not spoken a lot about. It's based in 3 different places in the world where the expertise lies. We have a relentless effort to make sure that once you come up with something along those lines, it will be at a cost that is effective to the hospital," according to the Seeking Alpha transcript. He added, "We're very, very confident we're going to come up with something. I'm not going to commit on the time, but (it will be) something that will be different and hopefully and possibly better than what's out there today."

Source: Fierce Medical Devices

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

New biopsy robot project from Europe

MRI and Ultrasound Robotic Assisted Biopsy:
"Researchers at the University of Twente are working on a biopsy robot that combines the best features of MRI and ultrasound, aiming to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer and muscle diseases.  
Current screening techniques for breast cancer result in 10 to 20 per cent of patients wrongly being sent home with good news, says UT researcher Foad Sojoodi Farimani. He is one of the project applicants of the European research project MURAB, which stands for MRI and Ultrasound Robotic Assisted Biopsy.  Farimani’s goal is to significantly reduce this percentage of false negatives. ‘If a mammography shows a suspicious image then we need to take a small piece of tissue for lab examination. But it’s difficult to determine precisely where the biopsy should be carried out. As a result we overlook too many patients who do indeed have a problem. That’s an issue we hope to solve.’ 
Expensive MRI and cheap ultrasound  
A biopsy in the MRI scanner could present a solution, explains Farimani. ‘MRI does not generate any radiation, has no side effects, and you can determine very precisely where you should do your biopsy. But it’s very expensive and it takes about 45 to 60 minutes a patient. Even wealthier countries can’t afford any large-scale screening programmes with MRI.’  This is why the UT researchers are collaborating with parties such as Siemens, KUKA and universities in Verona and Vienna to build a robot that combines the best aspects of an MRI scan with cheaper and less precise technologies, such as an ultrasound sensor and a pressure sensor. 
Muscle diseases  
This will mean that patients need to spend just 15 to 20 minutes in the MRI scanner. ‘This produces an offline MRI image that you can combine, during the biopsy, with online images from the ultrasound sensor,’ says Farimani. ‘One of the biggest challenges in this project is to use the precise MRI image to locate suspicious tissue in the much more indistinct ultrasound image.’  In addition to breast cancer, Farimani and his colleagues are also focussing on biopsy for muscle diseases. But ultimately, he says, the technology should be suitable for all diagnoses where a small piece of human tissue needs to be removed from the body. 
Collaboration with hospitals
Hospitals such as Radboud University Medical Center and the ZGT hospital group are also involved in the research project. The UT is working with these parties to bring the technology into line with market wishes. ‘The robotics in this project might actually be the simplest issue. Actually getting medical technology to market is often easier said than done,’ adds Farimani.  The MURAB project got underway quite recently. In November, MURAB received a Horizon2020 grant of 4.3 million euros. Some 1.2 million euros of this are going to the UT, which is managing the project. Besides Farimani, professors Stefano Stramigioli (project leader) and Ferdi van der Heijden are also responsible for project coordination; they are members of the CTIT research institute at the UT."

The MURAB consortium consists of the following partners:
  • University of Twente
  • Verona University
  • RadboudUMC
  • KUKA
  • Siemens Nederland
  • ZGT
  • University of Vienna
Via: Medgadget

Sunday, January 31, 2016

First Titan SPORT demo

Titan's system is preparing for the show: 
"The images show the initial SPORT Surgical System, which was built for Engineering Verification (EV) purposes. During EV testing, all components, including the Workstation (WS) and the Patient Cart (PC) shown in the pictures below, will be tested to measure performance in relation to design specifications and to measure compliance with regulatory guidelines. These EV units are precursors of the units that will be built in early 2016 for first-in-human use."
"“Regarding IP, Titan mgmt. thinks its patent portfolio will protect the technology, particularly around certain ‘automation features’ (i.e., camera positioning and supposedly a mechanism of cleaning the camera lens without having to remove the camera), though we suspect ISRG will still aggressively go after Titan given the similarities we see between dv SP and Sport,” Newitter and Misra wrote."
The system looks nice--quite a stretch from where they started early on, and even with the prototype they had just a few years ago. Read a nice article about their journey with Ximedica [part1][part2]: 

Source: Titan MedicalMDTMag