The magnetic imaging environment is challenging in terms of instruments because the strongly magnetic surroundings can hinder operation of the equipment. For this reason the robot should be compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In practice this means that traditional iron-bearing structural materials, such as steel, cannot be used in the robot.
A surgical MRI-compatible robot can work in the brain, where accessing the surgical area is a problematic and precise task. If necessary, the robot can also be adapted for use in other parts of the body. The longer-term goal is to develop an interactive and easy-to-use device, a robot arm that the surgeon can use like any other surgical instrument.
Professor Janne Heikkilä heads a research group whose main target is to develop image processing and analysis methods that could be utilised with the robot. The methods and technical solutions under development are expected to improve the usability of the robot and make it possible to perform operations where the presence of medical staff in the immediate vicinity of the patient is unnecessary. This reduces the number of errors and distortions occurring in MRI pictures.
Projected future uses of the robot include inserting active medication dispensers into the human body, in exactly the right place. Other possible applications include use as an aid in neurosurgery, urology, radiology and orthopaedics as well as in other clinical applications, such as prostate and breast cancer examinations.
MEDICA.de; Source: Suomen Akatemia (Academy of Finland)