Imperial College of London (UK): current projects on robotic surgery

A vision of the future of healthcare that includes how medical device manufacturers can learn from space technology and the latest on 'surgical' robots has just been presented at the Medical Device Technology Exhibition (MDT) held at Birmingham’s NEC (from 15-16 February 2006).

Explaining how robots could be the intelligent surgeons of the future, Rajesh Aggarwal, from the Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology at Imperial College London, has presented a vision of the future where robotic consoles are used in a variety of surgical procedures and mobile ward-based robots, with built-in stethoscopes and Bluetooth technology to transfer data from bedside to Internet.

"The use of robotics in hospitals is already a reality where doctors routinely use remote-controlled robotics to operate in constrained spaces, such as inside the heart, brain, spinal cord, throat and knee. Promising new treatment options using robotic technology have already been developed to help combat threatening diseases. In 2005 a patient at London's Guy's Hospital was the first to undergo a live kidney transplant surgery carried out using robotic technology. Among the advantages of such procedures are the robotic 'arms' which filter even minute tremors of the human hand and are able to perform extremely precise, intricate movements during the procedure and the robot's camera also provides a three-dimensional, stereoscopic image of the body's interior, as opposed to a two-dimensional image on a flat screen."


Video-based augmented reality for the da Vinci™ tele-manipulator system:
"Reduced tissue trauma and faster patient recovery are some of the advantages of minimally invasive surgery. However, standard laparoscopy imposes new limitations on the surgeon: an unnatural environment in which the surgeon has reduced dexterity, the loss of the eye-hand axis and reduced depth perception. The desire to overcome such disadvantages motivated the design and development of robotic minimally invasive surgical systems. Although most of these shortcomings have been tackled, the issue of a restricted field of view remains. One method to improve visualization during surgery is by using Augmented Reality (AR). AR enhances reality by combining simulated objects with the real world scene. Performed in real time, this technique aims to provide supplementary information to enable the user to accomplish complex tasks. In the context of minimally invasive surgery, AR can provide the surgeon with valuable overlays of pre-operatively acquired imaging data that can be used to facilitate navigation, guide to a target and/or avoid vital structures. The aim of this project is to implement video-based AR facilities for the da Vinci™ surgical system. The da Vinci™ system is a tele-manipulator that allows the surgeon to remotely perform minimally invasive surgery while seated at the master console. It presents a three-dimensional view of the surgical field through a binocular display. Successful calibration of the camera and slave manipulators is followed by a registration step to produce the desired overlays. Tracking of surgical instruments is then used to model tissue deformation resulting from the tissue-tool interaction and to update the overlays accordingly."

Imperial College of London, Department of Biosurgery and Surgical Technology:
=> Current projects
=> Visualisation and augmented reality

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