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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Updates on Titan's Amadeus

It's also time to revisit Titan's for updates. The development is going on, you can see the first and second prototypes above. They have closed another round of share offering in early March, raising a sum of $3M. That won't last for too long with their current burning rate of over $2M per month. Titan licensed a single port device from Columbia, aiming to hit that market, nevertheless, Intuitive got one 2 years ago. They have a powerful simiulation tool from Sensegraphics.
Some more details form their most recent investor's brochure:
  • Increased flexibility and open architecture for expansion of robotic surgery into untapped specialties
  • Robotic arms tailored for specialties that are currently <1% penetrated Patient cart tailored for small to medium size surgical spaces
  • Snakelike, multi articulating arms
  • Advanced communication solutions based on Internet Protocol
  • New type of motor feedback system
  • Targeting ENT, thoracic and general surgery
  • Ownership or exclusive rights to 12 patent applications
  • The company is now performing FTO analysis
  • US market launch in 2015

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Visiting UC Louvain

I believe I'm not the only one who was caught on surprise to learn that the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) is entirely separate from K.U. Leuven. UCL is a modern university, built only 40 years ago, creating Louvain-la-Neuve, practically a new city that is mostly inhabited by students.
"All within, the Institute of Mechanics, Materials, and Civil Engineering (iMMC) at the Louvain School of Engineering (EPL) of UCL there is a leading international center for research in engineering. Its core strengths span several of the major engineering disciplines, and are grouped into five inter-related topics
  • energy, thermodynamics, and chemical engineering
  • mechatronics and biomechanics
  • processing, materials, assembly, and structures
  • fluid mechanics, environmental engineering, and geomechanics
  • numerical and computational methods.
They have a couple of successful medical applications as well:
I met my good old friend, Benoit there, who did his PhD on the "Study, realization and validation of an active scope-holder for laparoscopic surgery", part time in Montpellier. I saw and tried the EvoLap that they plan to redesgin and commercialize this year or so.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Updates on the ALF-X system

Recently, I came a cross a new publication n the ALF-X system which revealed some more intereting details. 
  • "3 or 4 arms combined with 1 or 2 consoles, according to the needs. As the arms are separately moveable, immediate access to the patient is possible in case of an emerency.
  • Fast docking: all instruments are connected to the arms with magnets - immediate exchange of needed instruments.
  • The system detects within seconds the optimal pivot point of each inserted instrument.
  • Cost-effectiveness: the surgeon can use low-cost disposable instruments, however, the system provides reusable instruents.
  • Universality: any existing endoscopic instrument (articuated tip, monopolar, bipolar, laser etc. instruments) can be adapted. Therefore, surgeons do not have to change their operative habits and can even use the system for training.
  • In the first experimental operations performed using the Telelap Alf-X, the average time for cholecystectomy was 31.75 min as compared to 91 min using a conventional telesurgical system (Cottineau et al, 1998). We strongly believe that haptic sensation provided more confidence to the surgeon, which explains the shorter operation time."
Last month, their logo and name became a registered Trade Mark.
Another JRC brochure tells more about the history of the system:
"In 2004, the Italian pharmaceutical company, SOFAR, first approached the Joint Research Centre. SOFAR’s research and development team wanted to explore how the JRC’s expertise in nuclear safeguard operations that had led to the development of unique software might be applied to the field of robotically assisted surgery. Four years of cooperation between JRC and SOFAR engineers led to the development of the first prototype of the Telelap ALF-X system. In parallel, the JRC filed three patent proposals and created innovative software pieces. These intellectual property assets were licensed to SOFAR for further developments in 2009."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Visiting K.U. Leuven

I was given the privilige to visit Prof. Vander Sloten's Robot Assisted Surgery group at the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering of the K.U.Leuven, just outside of the beautiful city of Löven.
One of the cool projects I checked was LoTESS (Lovanium Tele-Endoscopic Surgical System),  a telesurgical system developed for surgical training within the framework of the PhD of Bert Willaert. Experimental validation demonstrates both reliable force measurement and force feedback.
The other one is the Vesalius robot (already covered here multiple times), getting span out to Instrumen Ltd. I could also try the system on an apple, since this version is aimed at laser surgery.
The group is the key member of the SCATh project, that "will provide the interventionalist with visual and haptic tools for robust and accurate catheter guidance, which will be developed through novel approaches, by fusing preoperative patient-specific anatomical and mechanical models and intra-operative data streams from in situ sensors." Their next joint workshop will be in Madrid in July, with a very tight submission deadline.

The Robot Assisted Surgery group in involved with various other topics, I recommend to visit their website for further details. While there, we discussed a couple of joint project ideas, so hoefully you will hear about it later. (Also, I gave my intro talk within.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Summer schools and other fun

Spring is here, summer is advancing quickly, so it's the right time to look for some fun. A couple of summer courses (for Luzie):
Worths to look at past summer schools, some might happen again this year!
If you know of more schools for 2012, please let us know!