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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New free 3D anatomy software

A message from Prof. Luc Soler. Many of us may share interest in it.
"Dear all, I would like to give you this interesting information. You can download and use freely the "Visible Patient" freeware available on google store for android phone and tablet and apple store for your ipad and iphone. It give the possibility to see several 3D anatomical and pathological cases extracted from real anonymous medical images of patients. It is an extension of the free VR-Render software developped by the IRCAD non profit association against digestive cancer available on websurg (http://www.websurg.com/softwares/vr-render/)."

For various other applications, we also have Sliced 3D, IGSTK or the MITK for free.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Classification guidelines for medical and non-medical robots

It might be interesting for many of us to look a little into the details of current medical robot categorization practices form the standardization point of view. (Excerpts from Gurvinder S. Virk, Tamás Haidegger: Classification Guidelines for Personal Care Robots Medical and non-medical applications.)
"Robotics is evolving from its traditional roots in industrial manufacturing towards the realization of a wide variety of service applications where the new robots are aimed at performing “useful tasks for humans or equipment excluding industrial automation applications”. Currently, specific regulations exist only for the industrial robots (which rely on separating the manufacturing robots from humans using real or virtual cages) and this is presenting a bottleneck for the development of the new service robot markets where the robots need to interact closely with humans. The key missing requirements here are the lack of suitable international safety requirements for the new service robot applications to allow the needed human-robot interactions including human-robot contact; this is causing difficulties for commercializing the new products due to the fear of crippling litigation actions in the event of accidents occurring. 
Current standards and regulations put the focus on the intended use as defined by the manufacturer when dealing with the classification of a particular robot system. It is possible to consider the key issues from two perspectives, namely:
  • physically assistive robots: such robots are used to provide physical support to users. Some examples to contrast the medical and non-medical applications are the following:
    • Physical rehabilitation exoskeleton (medical) versus an assistive exoskeleton for soldiers in the field, or supporting exoskeletons for persons working in a manufacturing line or at home carrying heavy objects (personal care)
    • Porter-type robot for logistics tasks in a hospital: its classification (medical or non-medical) depends on if it is involved in some part of a medical treatment. One example, in the case of medicine delivery, if there is human involvement (in the medicine delivery or decision making activities) after the robot has delivered its service then it is non-medical
    • Scrub nurse robot: operating in a sterile environment of the operating theatre (medical) versus performing general tasks in open wards (non-medical)
  • cognitive support robots: such robots are used to provide emotional and mental support to users. Examples include the following:
    • Robots in psychology: if a medical treatment is provided (following a professional’s diagnosis), then the robot is a medical device and must be regulated as such
    • Robot companions: for providing social support and companionship could be simple leisure time devices but users may get emotionally attached and there could be undesirable psychological side effects which need to be thought about
  • mobile servant robots: some of these are designed for personal care to perform domestic tasks (non-medical), but some systems could involve a medical doctor “e-visiting” a patient through an avatar that is used to perform some diagnosis (e.g., by measuring blood pressure) and providing some treatment (ordering medication or injecting drugs), making them medical devices."
 Check out our poster and the paper for more details on medical robot categorization. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

IROS workshop on robot safety

An interesting workshop was organized at last IROS
"First real-world applications that incorporate physical Human-Robot Interaction have been put to operation. This new trend of introducing interactive robotic devices into the market that are capable of safe acting in unstructured dynamic environments, is certainly a main driving factor of nowadays robotics. Both, research and industry believe that direct physical interaction between humans and robots will enable novel applications and create new markets, to finally bring robots into our everyday life comprehensively. From the standardization side, there has been considerable effort in reflecting complex interaction into existing industrial robot standards and define close human-robot interaction for service robotics, which is still significantly evolving."
  • Safe surgical robotic system and workflow design in the ACTIVE project for awake neurosurgery
  • Classification Guidelines for Personal Care Robots Medical and non-medical applications
  • A concept for safe human robot cooperation in surgical applications based on 3D sensing
  • See the full proceedings!
Image credit: We Robot, conference on robot safety

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

AIIM Special Issue on Telesurgery

The deadline is approaching fast. Send your manuscripts today!

Special Issue of full papers and short communications on 
Artificial Intelligence Methods in Telesurgery
  • Submissions due: October 15, 2012
  • Publication date: February 2013 
Editor-in-Chief: K.- P. Adlassnig
Guest Editor: T. Haidegger 

Elsevier journal Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIIM) is pleased to announce a Special Issue of research   papers  on “Artificial Intelligent Methods  in Telesurgery” to be published in February 2013 (tentative). AIIM publishes articles from a wide variety of interdisciplinary perspectives concerning the theory and practice of artificial intelligence in medicine, human biology and health care.  The Special Issue will contain  five to seven research articles, methodological reviews  and survey papers  from the domain of telesurgery, introduced by a guest editorial.

Scope and topics of the SI: 
•  AI-based control methods for robotic telesurgery systems
•  AI-based solutions to deal with latency in telesurgery
•  AI-based clinical decision support in telesurgery applications
•  intelligent devices and instruments
•  intelligent human–machine interfaces for telesurgery devices
•  AI-based skill assessment in telesurgery 
•  efforts towards automated robotic surgery 
• methodological, philosophical, ethical, and social issues of AI in telesurgery. 
For more details and the Instruction for Authors, see the complete Call!
Or simply contact me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Surgical robots in Asia

Despite the fact that the US is releasing and using most of the surgical robots, Asia is also on the rise.
"A robot, jointly developed by Chinese and Japanese scientists to work on vascular interventional surgery, made its successful clinical animal trial on 9 January 2012 through a remote control system linking Beijing and Kagawa. According to a briefing, the new system sharply cuts down the risk of a vascular intervention surgery, making the surgery more successful. WANG Tianmiao, a Chinese scientist involved in the experiment, said the design team installed for the first time a micro sensor at the end of the conduit to measure the possible collision between the catheter and blood vessels at a precision of 0.8 mm, effectively reducing the risk of surgery. Designed with a master-slave manipulator, the system can be controlled through a three-dimensional blood vessel navigation system, allowing the robot to perform vascular intervention surgery on instruction.
It took three years for the researchers from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Japan National Kagawa University, and Navy General Hospital to develop the robot. The project was funded by China’s National 863 Program and Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology with an amount of 20 million RMB ($3.17M). (The Ministry of Science and Technology People's Republic of China)"

Image credit: the MMSR system from the Beijing Inst. of Technology