Navigation Links
First steps toward autonomous robot surgeries

DURHAM, N.C. The day may be getting a little closer when robots will perform surgery on patients in dangerous situations or in remote locations, such as on the battlefield or in space, with minimal human guidance.

Engineers at Duke University believe that the results of feasibility studies conducted in their laboratory represent the first concrete steps toward achieving this space age vision of the future. Also, on a more immediate level, the technology developed by the engineers could make certain contemporary medical procedures safer for patients, they said.

For their experiments, the engineers started with a rudimentary tabletop robot whose eyes used a novel 3-D ultrasound technology developed in the Duke laboratories. An artificial intelligence program served as the robots brain by taking real-time 3-D information, processing it, and giving the robot specific commands to perform.

In a number of tasks, the computer was able to direct the robot's actions, said Stephen Smith, director of the Duke University Ultrasound Transducer Group and senior member of the research team. We believe that this is the first proof-of-concept for this approach. Given that we achieved these early results with a rudimentary robot and a basic artificial intelligence program, the technology will advance to the point where robots without the guidance of the doctor can someday operate on people.

The results of a series of experiments on the robot system directing catheters inside synthetic blood vessels was published online in the journal IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control. A second study, published in April in the journal Ultrasonic Imaging, demonstrated that the autonomous robot system could successfully perform a simulated needle biopsy.

Advances in ultrasound technology have made these latest experiments possible, the researchers said, by generating detailed, 3-D moving images in real-time.

The Duke laboratory has a long track record of modifying traditional 2-D ultrasound like that used to image babies in utero into the more advanced 3-D scans. After inventing the technique in 1991, the team also has shown its utility in developing specialized catheters and endoscopes for real-time imaging of blood vessels in the heart and brain.

In the latest experiment, the robot successfully performed its main task: directing a needle on the end of the robotic arm to touch the tip of another needle within a blood vessel graft. The robots needle was guided by a tiny 3-D ultrasound transducer, the wand that collects the 3-D images, attached to a catheter commonly used in angioplasty procedures.

The robot was able to accurately direct needle probes to target needles based on the information sent by the catheter transducer, said John Whitman, a senior engineering student in Smiths laboratory and first author on both papers. The ability of the robot to guide a probe within a vascular graft is a first step toward further testing the system in animal models.

While the research will continue to refine the ability of robots to perform independent procedures, the new technology could also have more direct and immediate applications.

Currently, cardiologists doing catheter-based procedures use fluoroscopy, which employs radiation, to guide their actions, Smith said. Putting a 3-D ultrasound transducer on the end of the catheter could provide clearer images to the physician and greatly reduce the need for patients to be exposed to radiation.

In the earlier experiments, the tabletop robot arm successfully touched a needle on the arm to another needle in a water bath. Then it performed a simulated biopsy of a cyst, fashioned out of a liquid-filled balloon in a medium designed to simulate tissue.

These experiments demonstrated the feasibility of autonomous robots accomplishing simulated tasks under the guidance of 3-D ultrasound, and we believe that it warrants additional study, Whitman said.

The researchers said that adding this 3-D capability to more powerful and sophisticated surgical robots already in use at many hospitals could hasten the development of autonomous robots that could perform complex procedures on humans.


Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University

Related medicine news :

1. HCA Reports First Quarter 2008 Results
2. Triple-S Management Corporation Reports First Quarter 2008 Results; Cites Growth Resulting From Strong Market Position
3. Rigel Announces First Quarter 2008 Financial Results
4. Stereotaxis Reports Record First Quarter Orders
5. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Reports First Quarter 2008 Financial Results
6. Cogdell Spencer Inc. Reports First Quarter 2008 Financial Results
7. inc. Reports Results for the First Quarter of 2008
8. BELLUS HEALTH reports results for first quarter of fiscal 2008
9. Healthcare Realty Trust Announces First Quarter Results
10. Par Pharmaceutical to Host First Quarter 2008 Earnings Conference Call on May 9 at 9:00 AM
11. HealthMedia(R) Explosive Growth Continues in First Quarter 2008
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Thermi™, a world leader in thermistor-regulated energy ... temperature controlled radiofrequency platform has received CE marking and may now be sold ... as a clinical endpoint. The technology has been available in the United ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... the driverless vehicle experience this summer, ushering in a new era of publicly ... driverless and electric shuttle, will continue to offer guests an up-close look at ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... On Saturday, October 24th, 2015, at the Mill ... fundraising event, a 5K walk known as “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”. Patients and ... is also located in Battle Creek, joined in for this campaign that sought to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , ... November 30, 2015 , ... ... off its annual fundraising campaign to raise funds for its research, education, support, ... 10% of the organization’s annual funding. , The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... According to Los Angeles bariatric surgeon Michael ... not necessarily caused by real hunger, but instead by a hormone called ghrelin ... that, while many patients are aware that weight loss surgery can help patients lose ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015 (HK$,000)For the Six Months Ended 30 September 2015 2014RestatedChange%Turnover 545,575 ... 421,979 , 384,242 , 9.8 ... 34,719 , (18.3) Medical Insurance Administration Service Income ... 16.1 Medical Devices and Accessories Sales , 89,645 ... Medicines Sales , 2,822 , 2,917 ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J. and SAN ... Inc. and Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA ) ... (FDA) has accepted for filing the New Drug Application ... approved, the extended release formulation will offer patients a ... ® ) is currently approved as ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... CHICAGO , Nov. 30, 2015   Nuance ... The National Decision Support Company (NDSC) today ... support and collaboration capabilities that utilize the American College ... and healthcare provider organizations to comply with current ... --> --> By combining clinical ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: