Jones Seminar: Enabling Technologies for MRI-Guided Robotic Surgical Interventions

Gregory Fischer, Professor & Director, AIM Lab, Worcester Polytechnical Institute

Friday, September 25, 2015, 3:30–4:30pm

Spanos Auditorium, Thayer School of Engineering

The focus of the research in the WPI Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Robotics Research Laboratory is on medical robotics - the link that allows us to enable “closed loop medicine” by using real-time feedback to guide a surgical procedure. In order to take the most advantage of robots in surgery, we work towards integrating real-time medical imaging with the interventional procedure to provide as much information to a surgeon during a procedure as possible and using that information in a way to produce better outcomes. We have developed a modular approach to MRI-compatible robotics including the software, control hardware and mechanical systems, and have used this approach to develop robotic systems for image-guided diagnosis and therapy of prostate cancer and for stereotactic neurosurgical interventions where we can perform surgical manipulation under live MR imaging. A configuration of the system intended for percutaneous access to the prostate is currently in clinical trials at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

We have developed an automated approach to image-guided prostate cancer biopsy and brachytherapy seed placement treatment under live MRI in collaboration. This system also incorporated MRI-compatible teleoperation with haptic feedback and is a testbed for needle steering using both concentric tube and asymmetric tip based approaches. We have developed a fully MRI-compatible robot for MRI-guided stereotactic neurosurgery. The primary goal of our work is precise delivery of patient specific treatment plans under live image guidance.

In addition to MRI-guided interventions, the AIM Lab also has an Intuitive Surgical daVinci Robot which is being used as a testbed for research in teleoperation, haptics, and supervised autonomy. The AIM Lab has been integral in developing and distributing the daVinci Research Kit — a common hardware platform being distributed to multiple research groups to develop a collaborative research community. Other research areas include assistive robotics including soft exo-musculature suits for rehabilitation as well as compact humanoid robots for social interactions with the primary goal of therapy with autistic children.

About the Speaker

Gregory Fischer is the Director of the Automation and Interventional Medicine Robotics Research Laboratory (AIM Lab) and is an associate professor at WPI in mechanical engineering and robotics engineering with an appointment in biomedical engineering. Dr. Fischer is also the Faculty Director of the WPI Healthcare Delivery Institute and currently on sabbatical where he is visiting faculty in the Department of Radiology at Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in mechanical engineering in 2008 and an MS in electrical engineering in 2005, where he was part of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgery (ERC-CISST). Fischer’s primary research focus is on developing enabling technologies for MR-guided surgical interventions including fiber optic sensors, piezoelectric and pneumatic actuators, haptics and teleoperation, modular robot control systems, and application testbeds.

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