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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Micro Hand A--China's bet in robotic surgery

Micro Hand A (妙手A) has been developed jointly by Tianjin University, Nankai University and Tianjin Medical University General Hospital. The first animal trials were conducted July 2010 in the university hospital, and since then, it is said to be deployed in some local hospitals. 
Further patrners are the Southern Medical University, Computer Research Institute of Surgery by the Southern Medical University, South China University of Technology, Shanghai Jiaotong University, National Defense University and Waseda University in Japan. The first phase of research was realized with 10 million yuan investment. They claim to be 3 years from becoming market-ready.
The Micro Hand A's main features include:
  • 3D vision system
  • 360 deg articulated inctruments
  • 0.1 mm accuracy claimed
  • 4 patents (6 pending)
You can find some related publiations here, and also the system was presented at the latest ICRA. A video of the first animal trial can be found here.
The etalon da Vinci system was first introduced in China in 2006, and received SFDA approval in July 2008.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conference proceedings--EMBC

This September is full of exciting conferences. We saw lately the IEEE EMBC happening in Boston. (See previous editions: 2010, 2009.) While major emphasis of the conference was rehabilitation robotics, various surgical applications and systems were presented:
You can access the whole program here. Full papers will be made available through IEEE Xplore soon.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Updates on the Alf-x robot

As time goes on, more details have leaked from SOFAR about the development of the ALF-X system., and apparently it has also been used in clinical trials. While the website of the robot is not fully functional yet, a newly released brochure tells more details about its capabilities. Some of the more interesting features:
  • sensorized classical laparoscopic tools as master controllers
  • trocars can be located anywhere on the patient, depending on the procedure, the patient’s positioning or the inclination of the operating
  • the basic setup alreaday contains 4 robots (they all have mobile platforms, with range scanners for basic safety)
  • the forces applied by the instruments are finely controlled and limited, thus avoiding the risk of  breaking the thread during knot tying
  • it is equipped with an eye- tracking system  to efficiently control the  endoscopic view by moving any viewed area to the centre of the screen. 
  • The eye-tracking system also enables activation of the various available instruments by merely looking at their respective icons on the screen.
  • quick docking and the quick displacement of the manipulators.
Source: NES Academy
Updates on the system
Previous post on the system.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Amadeus Composer and Maestro

Updates for the Canadian Amadeus system! 
from August shows some interesting data. 
There will be two systems developed: first the Amadeus Composer, then the Maestro. They see the opportunity to place 6000 of the Composers world wide, each consuming 2-300 tools a year. (Supposedly that means 2-3000 operations, which is a little optimistic IMHO.) Amadeus will primarily target ENT, thoracic and general surgery, with app. 1.5M cases annually in the US. 
Titan plans to offer maintenance and servic contract for $150K/year, which is pretty much equivalent to Intuitive's current model. Titan has 3 US patents, and 6 other pending. They aim to get into human trials in late 2013, and submit FDA 510(k) application in late 2014, when some of Intuitive's key patents expire.
Some of the advanced features thought to provide competitive edge:
  • Snake-like flexible tools
  • TCP/IP based communication for telesurgery 
  • Full HD 3D vision system
  • Force feedback
  • Simulator for training.
Titan Medical (TMD) went public in June at TSX Venture, and raised $9.5M funding (to support its monthly >$1M expenses). Current stock prices are at $1.59., estimated market value is $90M (versus Intuitive's $14.4B). Nowadays, Titan is hiring its Sicentific Advisory Board.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Visit at WPI

We were distinghuished with a guided tour to the WPI AIM (Automation and Interventional Medicine Robotics) Research Laboratory in Worcester by Dr. Fischer. Greg started to build the lab and to develop a high-class robotic program at WPI three years ago, after graduating form Hopkins. His group is focusing on:
  • Medical robotics and Image-guided surgery
  • Robot-assisted prostate cancer therapy and stereotactic neurosurgery
  • MRI compatible mechatronics (sensors, actuators and control systems)
  • Haptics and telesurgery
  • Human-robot interaction
Relying on collaborations with Hopkins, Harvard and Queens, they have quickly advanced to the lead in MR compatible percutaneous robotics.Their current projects are:
Learn more about their work through their publications.

Friday, September 2, 2011

AMIGO at Harvard

"The Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite is an innovative surgical and interventional environment that is the clinical translational test bed of the National Center for Image-Guided Therapy (NCIGT) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School. The AMIGO is an integrated, 5,700 square foot area divided into three sterile procedure rooms in which a multidisciplinary team will treat patients with the benefit of intra-operative imaging using multiple modalities. In AMIGO, real-time anatomical imaging modalities like x-ray and ultrasound are combined with cross sectional digital imaging systems like CT, MRI, and PET. Molecular image-guided therapy will be pioneered with the use of multiple molecular probes, such as PET, optical imaging, and targeted mass spectrometry, to increase the sensitivity and specificity of cancer detection."
Drs. Song and Tokuda gave us an in-sight tour to the AMIGO facility that opened this spring after a few years of planning and construction. Currently two rooms are fully equiped  and operational, (with lights, controls, navigation system, C-arm, etc.) providing the unique opportunity to surgeons to invoke intra-operative MR imaging to support critical neuro-procedures. In other cases, the three interconnected ORs will be able to function separately, like they do now for performing e.g., prostate biopsies with MR control. From autumn, the third OR will be also ready providing the PET-CT imaging capability.