Medical robots (a frequent topic here) are popping up everywhere, whether they're being used in surgeries, assisting paralyzed people, or monitoring remote patients. The latest one helps cardiologists in a type of surgery called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), which uses stents and balloon catheters to restore blood flow to blocked arteries.
The FDA has approved Corindus Vascular Robotics' CorPath 200 for PCI surgery. Like other robotic assistants, the CorPath 200 gives surgeons very precise control over fine-tuned tasks, such as manipulating coronary guidewires and stents. It lets them move surgical devices and tools in increments as small as 1mm in blood vessels only 3mm or 4mm in diameter.
A robotic system helps cardiologists with PCI surgery, a procedure that restores blood flow to blocked arteries. (Source: Corindus Vascular Robotics)
The system also helps interventional cardiologists remain at a safe distance from the radiation produced by the X-ray guidance systems they use to perform these procedures. To protect themselves, cardiologists have worn restrictive lead aprons weighing up to 40 pounds, but the physical stress of wearing them can lead to back pain, fatigue, and orthopedic injuries. It's also not clear from the research that's been done whether this protection is adequate over a career that involves repeated exposures.
The CorPath 200 lets surgeons control placement of coronary guidewires, stents, and balloon catheters from a lead-lined cockpit. The surgeon is seated in front of monitors that show the angiography screen. This setup may reduce physical fatigue and head, neck, and back strain. (Watch a video demonstrating the robot here.)
As the basis for submitting its application to the FDA, Corindus conducted a multi-center study, the CorPath PRECISE Trial. The company says this study resulted in an overall procedure success rate of 97.6 percent. Also, in 98.8 percent of patients, PCI surgery could be completed without converting to manual PCI and without device-related complications. The study also found the system reduced radiation exposure by 95 percent.
Corindus says that it expects to use the system's open platform technology and intellectual property to address other types of vascular surgery, including peripheral, neuro, and structural heart applications.
Quite welcome Ann. You are correct in terms of engineers and doctors working together to create new medical techologies. Gyrus have trainng courses where engineers observe doctors performing surgeries on patiences to under how they use their heart monitoring products.
Interesting comments about video games. I don't play them (anymore), but like lots of us I do conduct many very fast web searches, several times a day. That requires very quickly seeing what's on a web page and whether it's the data/links you need. My point is, I suspect that this is the baseline for the visual interfaces we have come to expect. After all, many of the surgeons using this and other robotic-assisted surgical tools are in the older generations.
Chuck, one thing I really like about robot-assisted surgical systems is that fact that they were clearly designed in close partnership between engineers and surgeons. Such insanely tight tolerances make that a necessity.
Thanks for that link, mrdon, there's a lot going on in that lab. MIT is doing a lot of robotics research in several different labs. We've covered some of their robots n various labs under CSAIL http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=243258 and robots from their Interactive Robotics Group http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=246646
Good point, Chuck. It could be that the biggest advance in medical care in recent years is the involvement of the engineer. Whether it's artificial limbs, surgery support, or remote care, the engineer is involved in wide range of medical advances.
Robots are truly amazing machines and everyday engineers are finding another practical use for them. The Artifical Lab of MIT has a wealth of medical robot's research. They're investigating robots for In Vio Biopsy and Laparoscopic surgeries. Here's the link of their research.
So right you are. The video gaming generation finally has use for those skills. There is still skill and judgment involved, but I'll bet eventually the engineers will even take that out of the equation. Then it will all be done automatically!
Once again we see a story about engineers advancing medical science and saving lives. I'm not trying to detract from the important work that physicians and surgeons do, but it would be nice to see engineers get their due (as doctors do) when the subject turns to medicine in popular culture. Great story, Ann. There can never be too many of these!
Ann, Excellent story. It makes sense that robotics would be a great addition for very precise control over fine-tuned tasks that a surgeon must perform. It's also amazing that the interfaces have become so visual. I like to tease a young man I've know for years, who just graduated from medical school, that all his years at video games are coming in handy for his new life as a cardiologist. Thanks.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
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