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Dr. Vipul Patel on the future of robotic surgery

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | May 16, 2013
From the May 2013 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Improved training and less trauma
Robotic surgery is physically less taxing than traditional surgery techniques, as it’s more ergonomically friendly, but there is a steep learning curve. Patel predicts that there will soon be a greater emphasis on training using simulations that show what it’s like to be behind the robot console to cut down that curve. The Florida Hospital Global Robotics Institute, where Patel works, already has a training center and a list of fundamental procedures for surgeons to pass before ever operating on a patient.

Better training and more precise technology will naturally lead to better surgical results, Patel says. Minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery has already provided patients with shorter recovery times due in part to less blood loss and trauma. In the future, Patel predicts surgeries will be even less invasive, bringing the number of incisions all the way down to zero. “It’s called natural orifice surgery,” he says. “Everything is done inside. That’s something we’re all working towards.”

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Michel Audette

converging surgical robotics, simulation, and intraop tracking

May 16, 2013 12:01

Michel Audette • I agree with this impending convergence of surgical robotics, simulation and intraop surgical guidance. My research group is dedicated to exactly that.

I agree that you will see continued development of MRI-compatible robots as well as time-efficient MRI pulse sequences that concentrate on a specific, relatively small subvolume of the anatomy (smaller than the preoperative scan), possibly in a way that provides multiple modalities, so that the combination of image gradients can anchor the intraop update of anatomical models developed from preop images and used in navigation. The tricky part will be to account for the resected part of tissues, in relation to preoperative tissues.

As for interactive simulation & robotics, we plan to develop this combination based on open-source toolkits for each. Potentially, this combination could also scale down to nanorobots operating at the cellular level, again leveraging open-source software toolkits, including the former two discussed here, and two more for atomistic molecular simulation and for the simulation of cellular processes.

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