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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trials on UCLA’s Robotic Training Device Postponed

Meanwhile, Researchers at Work on Other Robotic Developments 

by John Otrompke

Work on one of several medical robots under design at the University of California at Los Angeles has reached the point of human trials, but the trials were delayed until the fall, according to an administrator at the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASiT).
“We’re just finishing up the final touches on optimization systems and network connections on one of our projects, called the Laprobot,” said Erik Dutson, MD, coordinator of CASiT. “This robot would not need to go to the FDA; it would train them to do laparoscopies and minimally invasive surgery, which is now required to become a general surgeon,” he said.
The current incarnation is actually the second iteration of the Laprobot, according to Dutson. “We made it from scratch. The first platform was not as robust, so we remachined a lot of parts so they function more consistently,” he said, adding that UCLA manufactured every piece of the device, except the motor.
Once the tests begin, Dutson and colleagues will begin experimenting with novices. “We’re going to run them through three  of five standardized tests, to see if can teach them at a faster rate with a robotic interface,” said Dutson. The researchers would   test the Laprobot on three groups of ten novices, and use the device to teach them to pass a plastic triangle from one hand to another without dropping it. to do a surgical knot, and thirdly, a  scissor cut, he explained.
Initially, the experiments were to be complete by the end of the summer, but they have now been postponed until October or November, according to an administrator, so that researchers could resolve network issues and not have a problem with video delays in the telesurgery project.
“The robot would have to have certified as validated training tool, so we would request their endorsement of the Society for American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES),” Dutson said. If successful, he would hope to market the device for about $100,000 apiece, he added.
Other Research, Including Novel Robot for Eye Surgery
However, the Laprobot is only one of several project under way at the institution. A second one is a modular system under design for adding tactile feedback to surgical robots, while the other is a novel robot designed for eye surgery, Dutson said.
“We have patented a system which registers tactile feedback to the da Vinci, which allows us to mount silicon balloon pads that cause pressure indentations on the fingertips.
The system is modular, according to Dutson, which means that it could be remodulated for any other potential surgical robot, should another large manufacturer decide to produce one.
“One of issues with the system is whether it’s too expensive, or whether the water-proofing is cost effective,” said Dutson, noting that each instrument for a da Vinci costs around $2,500 and may last for ten uses. Adding the tactile feedback system may add another $500 or $1,000 per instrument, according to Dutson, who added that marketing is probably at least two years in the future.
A more novel product under design is a robot for opthalmalogic surgery. 
“The platform for this is fundamentally different from any former surgical robot,” said Dutson. “The da Vinci has a series of arms for a modular platform that rolls over the patient, while the platform for  our opthalmologic robot is a halo which is secured to the patient’s bed over their head, allowing it to operate relative to the bony structures in the skull,” he added.
Having co-authored an early paper on robotic ocular surgery (“Robotic Ocular Surgery,” by Tsirbas, Dutson, and Mango, in the British Journal of Opthalmology,  January of 2007), Dutson and fellow researchers Tsu-Chin Tsao, PhD, professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Jean-Pierre Hubschman, MD, an assistant professor in Jules Stein Eye Institute, have made a smaller robot for retinal surgery.

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