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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

MATE mini-symposium

The Scientific Society for Measurement, Automation and Informatics (MATE)' Division on Control Theory has organized a mini-symposium to promote the general area of surgical robotics in Hungary. Two evenings were devoted to short talks given by graduate students of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. The topics were following the chapters of the edited book "The Primer of Robotic and Telerobotic Surgery". Surgeons, engineering professors and industrial representatives attended the symposium. The Hungarian page of the event contains the downloadable presentations as well with rich video materials. During the second event representative of the da Vinci dealer Dutchmed Hungary Ltd. brought an EndoWrist instrument to the audience to play with, and Balazs Lengyel presented a custom built simple but effective laparoscopic training pad.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Manufacturing2008 conference

The Scientific Society of Mechanical Engineering (GTE, Hungary) organizes every year an international conference on industrial automation, the Manufacturing. This year there were some surgical robotics related presentations as well.
First, I gave a presentation on the most successful surgical applications based on industrial manipulators. This includes the first ever robotic surgery in 1985, a brain biopsy procedure (manipulating biopsy cannulae with a Unimate PUMA 220 robot). Beyond, in 1991, the first transurethral electro-resection of the prostate was performed with a PUMA 560 at Imperial College, London, UK.
In orthopedics, one of the earliest surgical robots—the ROBODOC Surgical Assistant System—was developed at IBM Yorktown Heights Research Center. A 5 degree of freedom (DOF) IBM SCARA robot (manufactured by Sankyo Seiki) was custom designed for hip replacement procedures and knee prosthetics. Integrated Surgical Systems Inc. (Sacramento, CA) sold more than 50 systems across Europe and Asia, and most recently it became the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved automated bone milling robot.
One of the most successful applications is the CyberKnife (Accuray Inc.) radiation therapy robot (figure 2). The system integrates image guidance and robotic positioning. A 6 MeV LINAC (relatively light-weight linear accelerator) X-ray source is directly mounted on a KUKA 6 DOF industrial manipulator (KUKA Roboter GmbH). Its primary use is irradiation of brain and spine tumors. SIEMENS has lately introduced its Artis zeego multi-axis system family that uses industrial manipulators to arbitrarily move a C-arm around the patient, in order to acquire high quality 2D and 3D reconstruction images.
The once commercially available Computer Assisted Surgical Planning and Robotics system (CASPAR from orto Maquet GmbH) used a retrofitted Staubli RX 90 robot for autonomous implantation of knee prostheses. The company got defunct for financial reasons. The modified version of the CASPAR is currently used in the Robot-based Navigation for Milling at the Lateral Skull Base (RONAF) project at the Universitat Bayreuth, Germany. The system's purpose is the interactive supervision of a surgical robot during cranial drilling.
With minor modifications, the NeuroMate was created of an AID manipulator. The NeuroMate robot (Schaerer Mayfield NeuroMate Sarl) was the first neurosurgical robotic device to get CE mark in Europe, and then the FDA’s approval for stereotactic neurosurgical procedures in 1997. Originally developed at the Grenoble University Hospital, France.
Next, Christian Woegerer presented from Profactor AG, Vienna. He has been working with Prof. Gernot Kronreif for many years, and took part in the development of the B-Rob I and II CT-guided percutaneous needle insertion robot. The second generation of the medical device is based on two simple and very accurate linear stages, and a 4DOF gross positioning structure. They have developed a dedicated user interface and many safety features to make the system eligible for clinical trials. The custom developed "ROBUST" navigation software is responsible for determining the needle trajectory and monitor the robot during the intervention. They used an NDI Polaris for optical tracking.The system is getting ready for commercialization.

Friday, November 14, 2008

BUDAMED2008 conference

Every third year, the Hungarian professional community of biomedical engineering and medical device developement organize a national conference, the BUDAMED (the 14. Conference on Hungarian Medical Technologies and the 5. Hungarian Clinical Engineers' Conference combined).
The morning session was about clinical needs, technological investments and laboratory design examples, spiced with some quality management. The afternoon gave the results of the Biomedical Engineering Group at the BME, including my talk on the work with the NeuroMate. The last people showed some good results with biological signal analysis and imaging.
Many of the presentations were given by PhD students, showing how national research is transforming and reidentifying itself after losing the former fame of nuclear medicine research.

Friday, November 7, 2008

IEEE-RAS/EMBC Biorob2008

The second biannual IEEE-RAS / EMBC International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics was held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference provided three workshops (besides the previously mentioned CIS, one on wearable lower limb exoskeletons and another on gerontechnology. The first of the three plenary talks was Imaging and Modeling Dynamic Molecular Machines in Biology from Dr. Subramaniam. He talked about molecular scale imaging to reconstruct and therefore reverse engineer cell mechanism, particularly involved with membrane processes. He highlighted Applications to HIV/AIDS and Cancer therapy, as specific receptor-affecting molecules could be developed. Probably the best talk was Dr. Cutkosky‘s about bio-inspired Running and Climbing Robots. He presented the long development process of the Big Dog running robot and the amazing Stanford Stickybot. The third one was a general introduction to humanoid robot research from Dr. Nakamura.
During the three days 6 parallel sessions were running in the following topics:
  • Biologically Inspired Systems
  • Biomechatronic Systems
  • Prostheses
  • Human-Machine Interaction
  • Exoskeletons and Augmenting Devices
  • Neuro-Robotics
  • Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics
  • Modeling Interactions
  • BioRobotics
  • Locomotion and Manipulation in Robots and Biological Systems
  • Surgery and Diagnosis
  • Micro/Nano Technologies in Medicine and Biology
Three mini-symposiums were organized (micro-robotics, cell manipulation and rehab robotics) and two poster sessions.
As the titles show, rehabilitation and macro/micro size technologies were more dominant at the conference, leaving less place for human-scale interventional technologies, what we do. There has been interesting presentations in the above mentioned area though, that will be available through the IEEE Xplore. One of my favorites was the MR powered micro-robot from ETH that uses the magnetic field to generate electricity for motion. Another one is the legged endocapsule from Paolo Dario’s lab.
The next BioRob will be in 2010 (September-October) hosted by the University of Tokyo, in Japan. Everyone is welcome there!