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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Surgical Robot Prototyping---Shameless selfpromotion

Since this is the first real book chapter I published, I take the opportunity to popularize it:
Prototyping of Robotic Systems: Applications of Design and Implementation by Eds. Tarek Sobh  and Xingguo Xiong (University of Bridgeport, USA).
Chater 10 is "Surgical Robots: System Development, Assessment, and Clearance". You can access the first twopages here.

Abstract: "Information technology and robotics have been integrated into interventional medicine for over 25 years. Their primary aim has always been to provide patient benefits through increased precision, safety, and minimal invasiveness. Nevertheless, robotic devices should allow for sophisticated treatment methods that are not possible by other means. Several hundreds of different surgical robot prototypes have been developed, while only a handful passed clearance procedures, and was released to the market. This is mostly due to the difficulties associated with medical device development and approval, especially in those cases when some form of manipulation and automation is involved. This chapter is intended to present major aspects of surgical robotic prototyping and current trends through the analysis of various international projects. It spans across the phases from system planning, to development, validation, and clearance."

My previous book chapter on Extreme telesurgery is open access.

Monday, February 20, 2012

IRCAD-IEEE MIS course LIVE on Thursday

Please join with us the upcoming live event of the IRCAD-IEEE course on innovation in MIS. 
Register here. Learn more about the program here
FEBRUARY 23, 4.30PM GMT+1 at IRCAD, and streamed online. The distinguished lecturers will be:

Friday, February 17, 2012

CIS news

We are just swarmed with great events and conferences:

Further CIS news:
Another vintagfe footage on the "future of telesuregy" with Zeus/Hermes:

Monday, February 13, 2012

The IRCAD-IEEE course rolls on

The IRCAD-IEEE course on innovation in MIS has reached its next phase: the engineering sessions. The first two lectures are already available for everyone from the IRCAD student website:
More exciting lectures are to follow! In addition you are all cordially invited to the LIVE engineering in MIS session of the course that will take place FEBRUARY 23, 4.30PM GMT+1 at IRCAD, and streamed online. The distinguished lecturers will be:
  • Prof. Michel de Mathelin on Automation and Control Challenges in the OR
  • Prof. Arianna Menciassi on the Future of Robotic MIS
Learn more about it from the newsletter

Friday, February 10, 2012

IARP meeting on Cognitive Surgical Robotics

At the end of January, the International Advanced Robotics Programme (IARP) held a 2-day forum on Cognitive Surgical Robotics in Heidelberg. The program featured renowned scientists from all around the world, who presented the state of the art in their region. Talks covered Europe in general, Germany, Korea, the UK, Japan, France, Spain, Poland and the US with Canada. (Probably the most exciting part in Ron Kikinis' presentation was when he introduced all the free medical imaging platforms based on a Nature Methods article, and derived why Slicer in the only good solution out there.) The next session was covering key companies/centers working in the area, such as DLR, KUKA and Force Dimension. Next, the current/recent major FP7 projects were introduced, such as Robocast, Active, EuroSurge, Safros. Participants also got an insight to what certain groups have roadmapped for the future. Cognition was also addressed on the sideline, although more questions were raised than answers given. Finally, a panel was brought up where an interesting discussion emerged, where the distinguished fellows expressed their anticipation for the future: 
  • expect to see evidence-based robotic surgery
  • SILS/NOTES on a higher scale
  • affordable MIS tools
  • all kinds of guidance for procedures.
Adjoin, participants were given an organized tour to the medical robotics labs of KIT in Karlsruhe, and I also got a private tour to the labs of dkfz's Division of Medical and Biological Informatics. (Reports will come later.)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Call for IEEE RAS student reviewer mentors

A good year ago we started a new initiative, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society's Student Reviewing Program (SRP). It aims to introduce students to the reviewing process step-by-step, in a controlled and supervised way. Within the SRP, some specific goals have been formulated:
  • Collect and create instructive material that students can refer to for help in the reviewing process,
  • Organize a training and supervision process for students to become a better reviewer,
  • Create a community of talented and devoted students,
  • Provide a database with experienced and motivated students that editorial boards can refer to,
  • Raise awareness about this program in the community.
The first year of the SRP closed with a successful pilot round, where 13 RAS student volunteers were involved in the reviewing procedure of the upcoming ICRA2012 conference under the guidance of Program Chair Prof. Lynne Parker (University of Tennessee). 

Now we are looking for new mentors for the SRP class of BioRob2012, which will be held in June in Rome. If you are a senior graduate student or beyond with experience in reviewing papers (especially for IEEE)--within the field if medical robotics, biorobotics--we cordially inite you to become a mentor for the SRP!
If you are interested, apply by sending an email to ras-srp.coordinator@ieee.org, with the following information:
  • your name an email address;
  • a one-paragraph motivation;
  • one keyword that describes your field of expertise;
  • your PaperPlaza PIN, if you have one.
Learn more about the SRP program here (next call for IROS2012 will open in March), or check out our previous articles in the RAS Magazine:

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The EuroSurge project

There is a new EU FP7 collaboration project, EuroSurge that aims to collect and organize all available information on European Surgical Robotics Research. (Previous FP projects are here.)
This regard, there is also the MERODA (Medical Robotics Database) from Heidelberg, based on Dr. Pott’s original CAS publication “Today’s state of the art in surgical robotics”.

Learn more about the EuroSurge here, where you can see immediately the list of participating institutions. To support the networking efforts of the group, I'm spreadding here there call for registration. Help us crating something great, register yourself, if you are applicable! 

Distributing their call for collaboration:
    In the framework of the European coordination action EuroSurge, we are in the process of collecting information (see the this excel file for details) about laboratories that carry out research in the field of robotic assisted surgery. This information gathering is the first step to achieve the main objectives of EuroSurge:
    1. Technical: understand the breadth of robotic surgery research in Europe, develop a framework for integration and sharing of research results, and develop a common language for the field in terms of a glossary/ontology.
    2. Organizational: give researchers the opportunity to participate in a network of laboratories that would: stimulate new ideas and proposal writing, organize specific events, be instrumental to researcher mobility, share knowledge and educational activities, and help in the development of new standards.
    3. Legal: provide support to researchers from the point of view of non-technical issues affecting robotic surgery, e.g. patent, ethical, regulatory and legislative questions.
    We kindly ask you to help us making the map of the laboratories whose researchers are involved in all the aspects of robotic surgery. The results of this survey, together with the other project results will be made available on the EuroSurge portal that will provide technical and non-technical support to the researchers. We will also create a mailing list to facilitate the information exchange in the robotic surgery community.
    The first event of the project, in which we will describe the project and its first activities, will be a workshop (proposed) at the EURobotics forum in Odense on March 5-7. This will be a great opportunity for all the members of the community to actively participate to the planned activities and shape their development.
    Please, complete the attached form by January 30th 2012 so that we can prepare a first draft of the research map by the Odense meeting. We are available for any further information you could need, and will appreciate the indications of a contact person (email address) that could be involved in the further steps of data gathering. The indication of other laboratories in Europe, working on the same topic, you know is welcome.
    Thank you very much for your kind attention and your precious contribution.

    Friday, February 3, 2012

    Surgenius--another contender

    I have long wanted to write about the Surgenius robot, a teleoperated system developed by Surcial Robotica S.p.A. in cooperation with the University of Verona (but they asked me not to do so). The beta prototype is ready for more advanced trials, getting the CE mark within a month. The group has been developing the robot for over 3 years, and now looking for strategic investors. The main advantage claimed are the compact size, the modularity of the system, the strerilizable tools and the price--of course.
    The development of Surgenius technically dates back to the mid-'90s, when Paolo Fiorini was working with Antal Bejczy at NASA JPL on the RAMS system. The Robot-Assisted Micro-Surgery (RAMS) system consisted of two 6 DOF arms, equipped with 6 DOF tip-force sensors, providing haptic feedback to the operator. It used a kinematically identical master controller; however, the operator sits right next to the slave arms. The robot was originally aimed for ophthalmic procedures, especially for laser retina surgery. It was capable of 1:100 scaling (achieving 10 micron accuracy), tremor filtering (8–14 Hz) and eye tracking. Interestingly, it was only initiated as a side project, using some left-over funds in the robotics lab, Tony and his team developed the system within a year relying on Steve Charles basic ideas. (Learn more about it here.) When they were ready, Intuitive got interested in the technology, and acquired all the documentation (in return of the placement of one of the furst da Vincis in a nearby military hospital.) The original RAMS prototype rested idle at JPL (as of 2008), since the project was discontinued. However it got licensed by a company in New Mexico, but not much happened... Until Paolo picked up the thread, and developed the Surgenius with his team; and now they also have a Medical Center to collaborate with. 
    The robot got merit at the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award in 2011; you can read more here

    From SurgRob
    More news to come!
    Credit: Surgica Robotica

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    EAES Winter Symposium

    The European Association for Endoscopic Surgery renewed its former tradition to give a half-day open symposium to discuss recent issues, challenges and opportunities in modern MIS technology. This year, the meeting was on January 16, in Brussels. The program included 3 invited lectures from high-profile robotics surgery professionals.  
    • Session 1. Robotic Surgery beyond 3D and 7DOF Sir Alfred Cuschieri, UK
    Sir Alfred gave a very up-to-date overview of the state of the art regarding da Vinci surgery, he explained his own concerns and wishes for further system development. Recently, he visited Titan Medical in Canada, and according to his opinion, already the current version of the Amadeus prototype is really fine, and very promising. (Now they are developing a human hand-like small-manipulator for the slave side.) He also talked about some long anticipated development in materials sciences, motors, electronics and sensing. He called for operational policies for the cost effective use of surgical robots.
    • Session 2. Da Vinci surgery : realism after the preliminary enthusiasm Guy Cadière, Belgium
     Dr. Cadière talked about the early years of the research, when they were developing master-slave systems for telesurgery even before the da Vinci system. Their group was therefore a natural location for the very first clinical trial. He explained that the only randomized clinical trial with the da Vinci was in Mexico, 1998; involving 120 patients. (Ed.: Second opinion, anyone?)
    • Session 3. Novel robotic systems integrated with novel imaging platforms - the smart operation of the future? Andreas Melzer, UK
    At last, Andreas Melzer talked about various research initiatives across Europe to push the frontiers of MIS robotics.

    In the lunch break, the ALF-X Telelap system was introduced by its developers. (See prior posts here and here.)