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

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Materials on robotics

Recently I learned that the well known robotics institute at the Carnage Melon University has a seminar series, such as the CISST's, but they also record the talks and make them available for everyone. There are many interesting presentations online from the last three semesters.
Also, nice shootage on da Vinci beating heart surgery is available online here, and the CTS center at USC provides further materials. For more HD surgery videos and tutorials, visit WebSurg.org!

Not exactly surgical, but interesting in general robotics the IEEE award winning Robot tutorial sites. Similarly, the article series on the EU's ICT FP7 results provide a good reading on special robotics. Springer published online the most recent edition of the famous Handbook of Robotics that gives a decent coverage on almost every field of robotics.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The MICCAI (International Society and Conference Series on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention) conference attracted more people this year than ever before. The location was very convenient for most of the researchers; it was held in the Center for University Life of the New York University, providing an amazing view over mid-Manhattan.
The first and the last day were only workshops, and as Peter was the organizer of the one on
Systems and Architectures for CAI, we also submitted a paper with Tian. He gave the presentation on Integration of Open Source and Commercial Software for our robot. It was good to hear how open the industrial IGS providers are (at least in theory) to work together with researchers. Another great example of cooperation is the SAW (Surgical Assistance Workstation) that provides additional features to the da Vinci robot, such as real time overlaying of US or any other imaging data in the surgeon's view. Also, many free medical imaging and visualization toolkits are available supporting research and clinical use (IGSTK, ITK, MITK, etc.).
The MICCAI is traditionally single threaded, meaning that there is only one oral session at a time in a large auditorium. Unfortunately (for me) most of the sessions were focusing on imaging and modelling, and only one was about robotic applications. Dr. Sakuma's presentation from University of Tokyo was very interesting about fluoroscopic image guided robotic laser ablation. The vast majority of the papers were posters, jamed in into two rooms. Some exciting new results were publisthed on DTI and EEG signal processing. Together with the posters, there were industrial exhibitors, namely the NDI, Medtronic, Siemens, Claron and few others. They mostly presented their optical and magnetic tracking products. Next year, MICCAI will be in London, hosted by the Imperial College. Hopefully, it will be even more accessible to people.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Image guided surgery workgroup meeting

Before the MICCAI conference I managed to participate in the users' workgroup meeting of Medtronic Inc. For one day, researchers using Medtronic’s surgical navigation system (StealthStation) discussed practical issues and limitations of the current research interface, StealthLink to provide ideas for further development – the upcoming StealthLink II.

There have been many interesting applications presented integrating an optical tracker. Probably the most exciting was a clinical system (developed at the Dartmouth Medical Center) that uses microscope imaging combined with navigation for complete removal if tumor tissue. The basic idea behind the project is that the tumors are different (more reddish) under fluoroscopy if injected with d-AFA. Fluorescence-guided neurosurgery is important for the resection of some types of cancerous cells where the tumor and normal tissue are similar in appearance and texture, and patient prognosis depends heavily on the completeness of resection. By selectively tagging tumor tissue with fluorescent dies, it becomes possible to visually discriminate between normal and tumor tissues. Multiple institutes are focusing on combining endoscopic views and 3D Models in Stereo to provide augmented reality view for surgeons. One good placeis the VRVis center in Vienna. Most striking were the examples given by Samuel Kadoury from Montreal Polytechnique of how image guided planning can help to reconstruct serious spinal deformities in only one surgery. Other sensor fusion techniques (US and optical), system frameworks (IGSTK, BIS) and robotic experiments were also presented. Our system, an image guided neurosurgery robot was introduced by Dr. Kazanzides.

It turned out that Medtronic is open for international research cooperations, meaning that they donate a StealthStation surgical navigation system if they get good research results from the use of it. We might take a good advantage of it.