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Team takes top prize at Surgical Robot Challenge

By Jason Winders

A team of researchers from Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics (CSTAR) and Western Engineering recently won the Best Innovation Prize at the Surgical Robot Challenge held during the 2015 Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics in London, UK.

The team, consisting of Anish Naidu, Christopher Ward, Abelardo Escoto, Srikanth Bhattad, Michael Naish and Distinguished University Professor Rajni Patel, received the prize for their entry, A Dual-Modality Instrument for Minimally Invasive Robotic Palpation to Localize Tumours.

“I am delighted with the team’s success,” said Patel, Director of Engineering at CSTAR. “Our entry was based on the master’s thesis research of Anish Naidu, a graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, under the joint supervision of professor Michael Naish and myself.”

The competition consisted of two rounds. The first round involved submitting a three-minute video online to introduce the team’s work, the purpose of their technology, and to provide a demonstration of their technology in action. Entries that made it through the first round fine-tuned their videos for the second round held at Imperial College London, UK.

At the symposium, the teams performed a live demonstration and delivered a 10-minute presentation about their work in front of a judging panel consisting of experts in robotics-assisted minimally invasive surgery from industry, clinical practice and academia.

Western’s team showcased a robotic instrument with ultrasound and tactile sensing – for better tumour localization during minimally invasive surgery in organs such as the lung – when using intraoperative ultrasound alone is not very reliable. The instrument is designed to be compatible with the widely used da Vinci surgical robot.

The team expects many benefits from the robotic instrument including: higher success rate in localizing tumours during minimally invasive surgery; reduced uncertainty in locating tumour margins; and improved performance of robotics-assisted minimally invasive surgery for tumour resection.