Surgery on beating heart thanks to robotic helping hand

December 11, 2009

If you've been waiting for the day to arrive when computers actually start performing surgery, that moment might soon be upon us. A French team has developed a computerized 3D model that allows surgeons to use robotics to operate on a beating heart, according to a report in The International Journal of Robotics Research.

The robotic technology predicts the movement of the heart as it beats, enabling the surgical tools to move in concert with each beat. It means that the surgeon can perform a procedure as if the heart was stationary. This development could be very important for millions of patients who require less invasive surgical heart procedures, where stopping the heart from beating would cause unnecessary risk.

Rogério Richa, Philippe Poignet and Chao Liu from France's Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics, and Microelectronics developed a three-dimensional computerized model that tracks the motion of the heart's surface as it beats. In addition to the heart, this model also accounts for the movement of a patient's chest wall during breathing. Known as the "thin-plate spline deformable model", this new computerized approach allows the robotic arm to continually adjust to heart and chest movements during surgery.

The new approach relies on a mathematical representation of the heart's surface as it moves in three dimensions during pumping. Researchers have made many attempts to use computer modelling to account for heart and breathing motion. However, previous efforts have relied on 2D imaging combined with other steps, making them to slow to provide instantaneous feedback during an operation. This new 3D imaging predicts the heart movements in a single step, making it faster in real-life surgical environments.

Over the last 10 years, robotic arms have become essential in many kinds of surgical procedures, including microsurgery and operations that require extremely delicate movements. However, these machines also prevent the surgeons from using their sense of touch and coordination to adjust for rapidly changing environments. This new computer-generated model makes it possible for the surgeon to focus on suturing or cutting without having to adjust for the moving surface. Ultimately, this breakthrough will have many potential applications including heart surgery, coronary bypasses, and many kinds of brain surgery.

This is the first successful attempt to effectively isolate the physical movements of the heart and lungs during surgery. This has been particularly difficult given the heart's irregular shape, as well as its tendency to expand outward in all directions during beating. The heart's irregular surface also makes it more difficult to use visual tracking to accurately pinpoint movement.

This important development will allow surgeons to perform less invasive procedures that are not "life-or-death", but that do require a high level of precision and can have life-altering consequences for patients worldwide. To date, patients have gone without many of these procedures because the risk of complications during surgery outweighed the benefits.

More information: Three-dimensional Motion Tracking for Beating Using a Thin-plate Spline Deformable Model by Rogério Richa, Philippe Poignet and Chao Liu is published today in the International Journal of Robotics Research, published by SAGE.

Source: SAGE Publications

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.