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UH Medical Robotics Laboratory Receives NSF Funding

Nikolaos Tsekos, Associate Professor of Computer Science, and his research team of University of Houston’s Medical Robotics Laboratory have received funding worth $1.4 million from National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant will be utilized to develop a novel technology that would assist cardiac surgeons in less-invasive image-driven cardiac procedures. These procedures are carried out on a beating heart without disturbing its biological activity.

Tsekos has stated that the hardware and software of Multimodal Image-guided Robot-Assisted Surgeries (MIROS) will enable surgeons to make minor incisions on patient’s chest. He mentioned that with the help of streaming MRI images, an adaptable robotic tube will be inserted to the surgical location. He added that surgeons can use surgical tools required for the procedure through the robotic tube. During this process, the software of MIROS will offer continuous instructions to the operator to stay on the finest path for reducing distress to the patient.

Every member of the team is working on developing different elements of the hardware and software of the MIROS system. The software included in the core of MIROS was built by Erol Yeniaras and Nikhil Navkar. They are also building exclusive software components for processing MRI images into 3-D virtual environment, enabling surgeon to operate securely.

The surgical robot to be used is being developed by students Johann Lamaury, Nickolas von Sternberg and Yousef Hedayati. Joystick features custom force-feedback and will be developed by Atilla Kilicarslan.

Upon completion, the software will be used by the surgeon to view the surgery on the virtual environment screen and operate the surgical robot using a joystick all over fragile tissues. Initially it will be tested on an artificial phantom heart, which will imitate the movement and anatomical structure of a beating heart. Later on this technology will be experimented on a real phantom heart in the Medical Robotics Lab to assure MIROS’ security and achievement.

MIROS technology is expected to be fully functional and accessible for patients in another two years.


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