Robocast Employs Robots for Neurosurgery

EU-funded researchers have invented a robot to assist neurosurgeons in brain surgery for its accurate performance and remarkable memory. The Robocast project, which received €3.45M from the EU, focused on a robot-assisted keyhole neurosurgery, performed through the burr hole in the skull.

"© Neuroengineering and Medical Robotics Laboratory, Politecnico di Milano"

The Robocast team developed a hardware named mechatronics , which builds the robot’s body and nervous system ,and the software provides intelligence including a multiple-robot unit, an independent trajectory planner, an advanced controller and a set of field sensors.

The mechatronic phase of the project was developed as a modular system with two robots and one active bio-mimetic probe, combined in an integrated sensory motor framework to operate like a single unit. The first robot can locate its miniature companion robot through six degrees of freedom (DOF), with three linear movements left to right, up and down and backward and forward and also three rotational movements of tilting forward and backward, side to side, or rotating left to right, all combined concurrently to place its companion anywhere in 3D space. This miniature robot holds the probe to be introduced via the keyhole. Optical trackers trail the end of the probe and the patient. The robot controls both the force applied and the position using a combination of sensors, defining the trajectory of the surgical implementation. The path inside the brain is calculated on the basis of a risk atlas and also by analyzing preoperative diagnostic information.

In February 2011, the Robocast team demonstrated a robot model. The technology being successful currently needed advanced modification for a live operating theatre application.



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