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

Saturday, March 27, 2010

CIS news

Great new things are happening around the globe in CIS every day. A few examples of recent activity:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Report on the historical Intuitive Surgical vs. Computer Motion case

Back in 2002, competition between Intuitive Surgical Inc. and Computer Motion Inc. () began to mount fiercely, as the market become ready to embrace surgical robotic technology. Those days, the sales numbers were still very low. (Zeus: 30 units sold in the USA, 15 in Europe, 5 in Asia; da Vinci: 50, 34, 5, respectively.) First, Computer Motion sued Intuitive Surgical for infringement of nine patents. Then, Intuitive and IBM filed the patent infringement suit against Computer Motion in reference to the voice-controlled technology. In 2002, the District Court for the Central District of California has ruled that the da Vinci Surgical System literally infringed Computer Motion's 6,244,809 patent. Then, a federal jury in 2003 issued a ruling requiring Computer Motion to pay Intuitive and IBM $4.4 million for infringing a patent covering aspects of Intuitive's system. After further complications, on March 7. 2003 the two company announced that "they are merging into one company that combines their strengths in operative surgical robotics, telesurgery, and operating room integration, to better serve hospitals, doctors and patients." This meant a goodbye to Computer Motion. "The reason that Intuitive paid a premium price for CMI is that they believed that they would lose one of the patent infringement cases that CMI was pursuing. The reason that CMI agreed to the acquisition, is that (while they believed they would ultimately prevail in the patent infringement case) they simply didn't have the financial resources to sustain them over the period that IBM's deep pockets would allow Intuitive to keep the litigation going."
"Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Computer Motion's equity holders would receive 32 percent of the combined company on a fully diluted basis (including out-of-the-money options and warrants), and Intuitive's equity holders would receive 68 percent. The merger agreement exchange ratio formula anticipates that each outstanding share of Computer Motion common stock would be converted into approximately 0.52 shares of Intuitive common stock. In the event that Computer Motion's common stock trades at an average of less than $1.86 per share before the merger, the exchange ratio will be reduced, but shall in no event be less than approximately 0.48. Under the merger agreement, it is anticipated that Intuitive will issue an aggregate of approximately 15.39 million shares, on a net fully diluted basis, in exchange for all of Computer Motion's outstanding common stock, preferred stock, options and warrants. The merger is subject to the approval of a majority of the shareholders of each company and is intended to be a tax-free reorganization. In addition, Intuitive may provide a bridge loan to Computer Motion to provide working capital for its operations through the closure period if necessary." (You can read further promises about the post-merger world here.)
After the merger, the Zeus was discontinued, the support for the product decreased and many of the engineers fired, as they did not want to leave Santa Barbara for Mountain View. CMI CEO (at time of acquisition), Bob Duggan is now the largest individual shareholder in Intuitive. Yulun Wang, founder of Computer Motion become the CEO of inTouch Health, and developed the RP-7 robot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Surgical Robotics research in the EU

The EU has been sponsoring innovation in the field of surgical robotics through the FP grants for many years. At the ICRA2010 conference, a half day workshop is devoted to the overview of the different projects, enlisted below. A more detailed report will follow in May!

  • FP6 – ARES Assembling Reconfigurable Endoluminal Surgical systems. The ARES project aims at developing an entirely new type of surgical tools, capable of entering the human body through natural orifices (by insertion, ingestion or inhalation) or very small incisions (injection), and configuring themselves in complex kinematic structures at the specific site of intervention.
  • FP6 – ACCUROBAS Accurate robotic assistant. The main objective of the project is to develop an innovative and universal robotic assistant system to support a human in dextrous manipulation during surgical procedures on different levels of autonomy.
  • FP6 – VECTOR Versatile Endoscopic Capsule for gastrointestinal TumOr Recognition and therapy. The project pursues the goal of realizing smart pill technologies and applications for gastrointestinal (GI) diagnosis and therapy.
  • FP7 – ARAKNES Array of Robots Augmenting the KiNematics of Endoluminal Surgery. ARAKNES is focused on innovative robotic system for endoluminal surgery. The project aims at bringing inside the patient’s stomach a set of advanced bio-robotic and microsystem technologies for therapy and surgery.
  • FP7 – ROBOCAST ROBOt and sensors integration for Computer Assisted Surgery and Therapy. The ROBOCAST project is providing the neurosurgeon with a robotic modular assistant for keyhole procedures. The system also features advanced planning possibilities and intra-operative sensing modalities.
  • FP7 – SAFROS This proposal addresses the development of technologies for patient safety in robotic surgery. We aim at demonstrating that a properly controlled robotic surgery carried out in accordance to our safety criteria can improve the level of patient safety currently achievable by traditional surgery.
  • FP7 – SCATh The additional complexity of less invasive surgical procedures entails unacceptable risks for the patient and hampers the development of superior interventional techniques. The goal of SCATh is to minimize these drawbacks specifically for a series of new and promising catheterization procedures dealing with cardiovascular disease, the main cause of death in the EU. In STREAM, a Marie-Curie Reintegration program, approaches are developed to design robust bilateral teleoperation controllers in order to enhance microsurgical procedures.
  • FP7 – NANOMA The NANOMA project aims at the development of a drug delivery microrobotic system (consisting of nanoActuators and nanoSensors) for the propulsion and navigation of ferromagnetic microcapsules in the cardiovascular system through the induction of force from magnetic gradients generated by a clinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
A complete list of EU funded robotic projects at EURON's website.

Source: Advanced surgical service robotics in the European Union 6th and 7th Framework Programs Workshop site

Monday, March 8, 2010

New ICABB conference series

1st International Conference on Applied Bionics and Biomechanics (ICABB-2010) in beautiful Venice.
"The main objective of the ICABB-2010 is to reunite research groups, scientists, engineers and practitioners to present recent results, technological innovations and promising future directions in Applied Bionics and Biomechanics.
The Technical Program of the ICABB-2010 will consist of article presentations in Technical Sessions, Special Sessions, Poster Sessions, Tutorials, and Workshops.
We believe that the ICABB-2010 will provide an appropriate Forum for the dissemination of knowledge on a diverse and wide scientific/technical Scope to the fast growing community engaged in Bionics and its affine fields/areas.

Special Sessions / Tutorials / Workshops Proposals: May 3, 2010
Full Papers submission deadline: May 31, 2010
Extended Abstracts submission deadline: June 18, 2010
Papers acceptance notification: July 30, 2010
Final manuscripts in camera-ready formal: September 17, 2010
ICABB-2010: October 14 - 16, 2010

Papers accepted as Full/Regular Papers and a selection of accepted Short Papers will be considered for publication in "Applied Bionics and Biomechanics".

Monday, March 1, 2010

New da Vinci trainer: RoSS

A new, market-ready da Vinci simulator was released last week, the
RoSS™ Robotic Surgical Simulator, licensed to Simulated Surgical Systems. The company plans to begin selling by the end of 2010. Looks nice and shiny, but the most important question is the quality of the simulation they created. Looking forward to see how they can compete on the more simple Mimic dV Trainer. Also, the Phantoms have serious limitation in workspace.
"A collaboration between the Center for Robotic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has produced one of the world's first simulators that closely approximates the "touch and feel" of the da Vinci™ robotic surgical system.
The Robotic Surgical Simulator, or RoSS, addresses the quickly growing need for a realistic training environment for robot-assisted surgery, a field that is rapidly expanding and is expected to constitute a significant number of all surgeries within the next five to seven years. The RoSS will play a critical, educational role for RPCI and other similar institutions involved in robot-assisted surgical systems."

Features of the device:

  • Stand-alone surgical simulator that is independent of a surgical robot, vision cart
  • Cost of operating the RoSS is minimal as no consumables or disposables are required
  • The RoSS data management system allows performance analysis and measurement tools to objectively measure and record performance
  • User does not require monitoring thus enabling maximum flexibility and opportunity for training
  • Surgical procedures can be rehearsed
  • New surgical procedure modules can be added to the RoSS
  • RoSS does not require an operating room environment and can be set up in a location most advantageous to access and training needs
  • RoSS has a monitor which allows a user or tutor to observe the procedure
  • Comprehensive curriculum to train for motor, and cognitive skills required to operate surgical robot
  • Suite of simulated surgical procedures for fellow or resident to follow, and recreate the surgical steps of an expert surgeon

  • Brochure of the RoSS.
    A short video on MedGadget.
    The patent they filed two years ago.
    About the background of the research group.

    Update: more about the training procedure.

    Sources: SSS, UBaffalo, MedGadget