Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Random Walk: In the Operating Room

Students in the operating room
Photograph by Karen Endicott.

At 6 a.m. one Wednesday in May, students entered an operating room at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to try their hand at robot-assisted surgery. Professor Ryan Halter Th’06 wanted his ENGS 57/169: “Intermediate Biomedical Engineering” class to literally get the feel of a da Vinci surgical system, using handles in a console to control robotic arms set above an operating table on the other side of the room. “It was incredibly rewarding to sit behind the actual instrument where, just a few weeks prior, we saw a prostatectomy being performed—and actually use the same device as the surgeon used,” says Alex Engler ’12. “Within five minutes I was successfully ‘suturing’ a rubber ring to a foam-core base. It gave a real sense of appreciation for the engineering that went into creating this device.” The experience aided students in developing solutions to real clinical needs: an LED-based technique to guide ultrasound during robot-assisted kidney surgery, a probe for sensing surgical margins during robot-assisted prostate surgery, a fixation system for jaw surgery, and a vacuum-attachment device for use in laser ablative skin procedures. According to Halter, the groups that worked on the jaw and vacuum devices are pursuing patent protection.

For more photos, visit our Engineering in Medicine and Summer 2011 sets of images on Flickr.

Categories: Random Walk

Tags: alumni, curriculum, engineering in medicine, projects, students

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