Blog Tag: robotic surgery

MRI-Compatible Robot Aims to Improve Breast Cancer Biopsies

MRI-Compatible Robot Aims to Improve Breast Cancer Biopsies

The University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands recently introduced “the world’s smallest and most accurate 3D-printed biopsy robot,” called the Stormram 4.  The device is designed to carry out biopsies during breast cancer scans and was developed by a team at the university’s Robotics and Mechanics lab in collaboration with Ziekenhuis Groep Twente.

The Stormram 4 can be used inside an MRI scanner because it is constructed entirely of plastic and is small enough to fit inside the MRI scanner’s narrow tunnel.  The device is powered by rectilinear and curved air-pressure motors, which are controlled by an operator outside of the MRI scanner.  New Atlas reports that the device allows the biopsy procedure to be carried out with sub-millimeter precision, which is impossible to achieve manually.

Vincent Groenhuis MSc, one of the Stormram 4 developers, spoke with Digital Trends about the new device.  He stated:

The robotic system can manipulate the needle more precisely toward target coordinates of the lesion inside the body, on the first attempt . . . . This will improve the accuracy of the biopsy procedure compared to the current manual practice. Secondly, the needle insertion can be performed inside the MRI scanner itself, so that the needle can be followed under nearly real-time imaging guidance. The required time to perform the biopsy is also shorter, allowing more effective use of the MRI scanner facilities.

According to Digital Trends, the Stormram 4 is in its final stages of design, after which Groenhuis and his team plan for the device to undergo clinical testing in order to obtain regulatory approval.

The Stormram 4 is one of several MRI-compatible robots under development in the field of cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Earlier this year, researchers at Johns Hopkins reported on a successful prostate biopsy trial of an MRI-compatible biopsy robot called MrBot.  According to the Urology Robotics Lab at Johns Hopkins, MrBot is the “first fully actuated MRI robot.”

TransEnterix Acquires ALF-X for $99.8 Million

Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based TransEnterix, Inc. announced today that it has acquired the surgical robotics division of SOFAR S.p.A., an Italian health care company. According to the announcement, the deal is a cash and stock transaction with a total consideration of $99.8 million.

According to its website, SOFAR manufactures medicines, nutraceuticals, and medical devices, specializing in therapeutic areas such as gastroenterology, gynecology, urology, and dermatology. SOFAR’s website notes that the company was founded in 1968 and currently has approximately 350 employees. According to its website, SOFAR invested heavily over the last twelve years in developing TELELAP ALF-X, an advanced robotic system for minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery., and that the TELELAP ALF-X system was granted CE certification in 2012.

According to TELELAP ALF-X promotional materials, the system has a surgical cockpit that allows open view of the operation theater.  Tool control is realized through laparoscopic-like input devices. The system also includes 3-D stereo vision with polarized glasses and incorporates a full eye-tracking system.  SOFAR recently announced that the TELELAP ALF-X system is being used for minimally-invasive gynecological procedures.

According to its website, TransEnterix is focused on the development and commercialization of its SugiBot System, a robotically-enhanced laparoscopic surgical platform that allows the surgeon to be patient-side within the sterile field. According to  TransEnterix President and CEO, Todd Pope:

We believe this combination accelerates our commercialization timeline and revenue ramp as we can immediately begin selling the ALF-X in many markets globally.

In its press release, TransEnterix emphasized the advantages of combining the SurgiBot and ALF-X systems.  According to TransEnterix, this acquisition will allow TransEnterix to accelerate the migration of traditional laparoscopy to robotically-assisted laparoscopy by eliminating cost barriers to adoption.  TransEnterix stated that a transition to robotically-assisted laparoscopy could potentially be quite positive for TransEnterix given that laparoscopic procedures represent over 10 times the number of existing robotic surgery procedures.