The neurosurgery robot project I.

Neurosurgery requires extreme precision and accuracy. Normally any procedure takes hours as the doctor has to move the surgical equipment very carefully. This means this is a great area for CIS where we can fully take advantage of the features offered by the robots. This was the idea that made the people at ERC begin the NeuroMate project I am involved in.
The NeuroMate robot was originally developed by Integrated Surgical Systems Inc. for MRI based biopsy taking. (See previous post.) The present project is focusing on skull base surgery, to significantly reduce the time of operation by offering surgeons a precise and safe drilling tool. We use compliant motion control which means the surgeon is fully in charge of the control of the robot by holding the drilling tool mounted at the end of the robotic arm. The 6 DOF force sensor added gathers information on the surgeon's hand movement in real time, and moves the robot to follow it. This is a safe way to support drilling and in the mean time reduce tremor.
The most important added value of the system is the use of Virtual Fixtures. VF concept was first introduced by Rosenberg in 1993, and further developed by Dr. Taylor and Dr. Kazanzides to be used in cooperative CIS. The VF is a virtually defined spatial area where the robot is allowed to move. It is drawn on a 3D model of the patient, usually the MRI based models built for records taken soon before surgery. We use the open source 3D slicer to import the MRI data and to define the VFs. Applying the VF during surgery means, that whatever the physician wants to do the robot will not follow if it results a motion leaving the safe area. What is more, there is a proportional scale down in speed in the proximity of the boundary. This safe way allows the surgeon to automatically avoid critical anatomical areas, and to speed up the drilling process significantly. Advantage for the patient and for the surgeon as well.
To be continued…


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