Medical Robotics Magazine

The first and only commercial feature medical robotics news magazine, founded February 2007 by John J. Otrompke, JD, consultant and publisher


Medical Robotics Magazine is the world's first and only commercial feature news magazine devoted to all aspect of the medical robotics industry- including robotic surgery, physical therapy robots, hospital orderlies, and other topics related to robotic medicine. As a feature magazine, Medical Robotics features interviews, business news, conference coverage and editorials, as well as a generous portion of articles written by noteworthy robotics surgeons as well as clinical trials reports. MR has been on-line since 2007, and first appeared in print in January of 2008 at the annual meeting of MIRA (the Minimally Invasive Robotics Association) in Rome, Italy. Medical Robotics Magazine is copyrighted, features a nascent Board of Editorial Advisors, and is indexed by the U.S. Library of Congress. All contents (c) 2011 John J. Otrompke, JD Contact: John J. Otrompke, JD 646-730-0179

Monday, July 23, 2007

Army-Funded Small-Cap May Offer Complement to da Vinci

Army-Funded Small-Cap May Offer Complement to da Vinci

By John J. Otrompke, JD

An experimental device intended for remote surgery and partially funded by the U.S. military may be a more light-weight and useful complement to the da Vinci in battlefield or disaster situations, according to a researcher at the University of Washington in Washington state.

The experimental device, called The Raven, has its genesis in an experimental process which analyzed the physical underpinnings of surgical technique, by surgeon or device, and which could offer insights into even the da Vinci’s performance.

“Our lab had been working on different robotic applications performing scientific analyses of surgery by looking at the forces and torques exerted during surgery with another device we designed called the Blue Dragon,” said Mitchell Lum, a PhD candidate in electrical engineering at the University of Washington College of Engineering, who also worked on the experiments.

“The Blue Dragon would track a surgeon’s motions as we had 30 surgeons go through a number of different tasks, such as suturing, measuring out a set length of bowel, moving from left to right and then from right to left, grasping or grasping and pulling or grasping and sweeping,” he said. “Then we were able to quantitatively assess the skill level of the surgeon when compared to an expert. We could tell if they were an expert, and we could make a good guess whether they were a complete novice, a first-year resident, or a fifth-year surgical resident,” Lum continued.

The Blue Dragon had other uses as well, Lum said.

“You can think of it like a flight data recorder. “If there was some kind of problem during surgery, you could recall what happened during the surgery based on the robot’s motions, whether was there a spike in pressure, or torque on one of the joints, or if something went wrong in the controls,” he said.

Based on their research, the institution started working in 2002 on what’s now called The Raven Surgical Robot, funded with approximately $1 million by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. “Our robot is comprised of 3 basic parts- the patient site, where the Raven manipulators are, then there’s surgeon site, and then the connection. We did an experiment in last year in Fimi Valley, California where a surgeon was in tent simulating a test flying field, and the patient site was in a second tent and connected the two with a wireless network that would simulate an unmanned aircraft.

In comparison to the da Vinci, the Raven is more mobile, said Lum. “That operation would take
1 ½ Da Vincis to perform: a complete da Vinci where the patient is, and another where the surgeon would be located. In using a da Vinci, the manipulator sits on a what looks like a palette jack, then they get the patient in the operating room, and then roll the robot over the patient. There’s a command console where the surgeon sits in the same room as the patient.”

To be fair, however, in comparisons between the two devices, the da Vinci has performed much faster than the simpler Raven, Lum added.

“A surgeon from Seattle Childrens’ Hospital performed the same procedures, such as block tying and intracorporeal knot-tying with the two devices, and the da Vinci was much faster,” he said.

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