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

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BioRob – Surgical robotics workshop

The 2nd IEEE/RAS – EMBS BioRob conference began with a full day workshop on surgical robotics. The invited speakers covered many areas; however, it was still more of a series of podium talks.
Richard Satava, probably the greatest visionary of the field began the presentations by showing up the technologies already in reach to improve health care. As he pointed, “we are moving from the tissue and instrument to the information and energy”, meaning that not the tool is the important (robot, or smart device) but the framework it fits. Some of his presentations are available here, showing HIFU focusing robots, femto-lasers, surface manipulation based HMIs and many other interesting things. Some of his videos are also available zipped (VIDEO1; VIDEO2).
Next, Gary Gilbert from DARPA presented the military’s view on the future of battlefield healthcare. Current law determines that by 2015 one third of the US army should consist of automated vehicles, and by 2035 there shall be no more human aircraft pilots flying. This tight roadmap explains the military’s key interest in robotic technologies. A good example is the Big Dog four-pied robot. More time was spent on the introduction of the BEAR (Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot) rescue robot that is capable of evacuating soldiers (lifting and balancing up to 260 kg).
Further talks covered the successful zero-G surgical robotic tests of NASA, the hand-held tremor filtering surgical tool developed at Carnegie Melon, the magnetic-suspended abdominal self-assembling robots of University of Nebraska, the video image based beating heart analysis and compensation of the LIRMM and other major ongoing research projects. From Hopkins, Dr. Taylor presented how the CISST ERC covers the entire field of CIS; from imaging, planning to registration, execution and evaluation. Dr. Okamura talked in details the ongoing haptic, tactile and needle-steering projects undertaken in her lab.
The workshop ended with a short open discussion where the participants agreed on two major absences of the field. First, a standard performance evaluation scale and method would be needed to measure surgical systems, robots and technologies in an objective scale. This could be a set of key surgical skills and gestures along with standard measurement techniques. Also, it would be great to have a generic, multi-purpose, affordable open source, open platform hardware to prototype, test and evaluate new solutions, making them comparable, and saving the time of separate testbed development.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Though the submission deadlines are passed, there are a few upcoming conferences that might be worth to follow: the IEEE BioCAS (Biomedical Circuits and Systems Conference) will take place in Baltimore in a month. The most important (and only) Hungarian national BME conference, the BUDAMED is also approaching. The annual MMVR (Medicine Meets Virtual Reality) fill follow in January and ICRA in May. Some other relevant conferences are listed here.
It's still not to late to consider the next CARS (Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery) in Berlin, the IROS (IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent RObots and Systems) in St. Louis, the SMIT in Romania, or the IFAC MCBMS in Aalborg.
You can find interesting CIS conference presentations back from a 2004 meeting on Imaging and Computing.
The next post will be live from the BioRob conference.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Winter school on surgical robotics

The NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer-integrated Surgical Systems and Technology (CISST ERC) is proud to present a week-long "winter school" on medical robotics and computer-integrated interventional medicine. Co-organized with the 10th year celebration of the CISST ERC, this intensive short course will include tutorial lectures and research talks by internationally recognized faculty, lab tours & demonstrations in our new facilities in the Computational Sciences and Engineering Building on the Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, and a compressed version of Johns Hopkins' unique Surgery for Engineers course. The course is open to graduate students and young professionals beginning research in this exciting and rapidly expanding field.

Application deadline: October 13, 2008

Further information: http://www.cisst.org/wiki/MRCIIS