Robot-assisted surgery: putting reality into virtual reality

Cardiac surgeons can better plan operations and improve their vision of the surgical field with the help of a robot. Controlled through a parallel virtual reality system such as a digital twin, the robot can accurately image a patient using ultrasound without hand cramps or radiation exposure hindering operators. humans. The international research team published its method a IEEE / CAA Journal of Chinese Automation.

“Intraoperative ultrasound is especially useful because it can guide surgery by providing real-time images of hidden devices and anatomy,” said the author of the paper Fei-Yue Wang, director of the State Laboratory of Management and Control of Complex Systems. . , Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences. “However, the need for highly specialized skills is always a barrier to reliable and repeatable acquisition.”

Wang noted that the availability of sonographs in situ may be limited and that many procedures that require intraoperative ultrasound also often require X-ray imaging, which could expose the operator to harmful radiation. To mitigate these challenges, Wang and his team developed a platform for transoperative transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), an imaging technique widely used to diagnose heart disease and guide cardiac surgical procedures.

“Our result has indicated that the use of robots with a simulation platform could improve the overall usability of intraoperative ultrasound and help less experienced operators,” Wang said.

The researchers used parallel control and intelligence to pair an operator with the robot in a virtual environment that accurately represents the real environment. Equipped with an ultrasound imaging database and a digital platform capable of reconstructing the anatomy, the robot could navigate the target areas so that the operator can better visualize and plan possible surgical corrections in computational experiments.

“This system can be used to define and optimize the view to aid pre-planning as well as for algorithm evaluations to facilitate real-time control and navigation,” Wang said.

The researchers then plan to further integrate the currently proposed parallel real / virtual system with specific clinical needs to aid in translational research of these imaging robots.

“The ultimate goal is to integrate the virtual system and the physical robot for in vivo clinical trials, so that a new diagnostic and treatment protocol using parallel intelligence in medical operations is proposed,” Wang said.


SY Wang, J. Housden, TX Bai, HB Liu, J. Back, D. Singh, K. Rhode, Z.-G. Hou and F.-Y. Wang, “Robotic intraoperative ultrasound: virtual environments and parallel systems” IEEE / CAA J. Autom. Sinica, flight. 8, núm. 5, pages 1095-1106, May 2021. http: // /a /article /doi /10.1109 /JAS.2021.1003985

IEEE / CAA Journal of Chinese Automation aims to publish worldwide research achievements of great interest and quality and provide an international forum for the presentation of original ideas and recent results related to all aspects of automation.

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