Precision placement of instruments for minimally invasive procedures using a “needle driver” robot
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Medical practice continues to move toward less invasive procedures. Many of these procedures require the precision placement of a needle in the anatomy. Over the past several years, our research team has been investigating the use of a robotic needle driver to assist the physician in this task. This paper summarizes our work in this area. The robotic system is briefly described, followed by a description of a clinical trial in spinal nerve blockade. The robot was used under joystick control to place a 22 gauge needle in the spines of 10 patients using fluoroscopic imaging. The results were equivalent to the current manual procedure. We next describe our follow-up clinical application in lung biopsy for lung cancer screening under CT fluoroscopy. The system concept is discussed and the results of a phantom study are presented. A start-up company named ImageGuide has recently been formed to commercialize the robot. Their revised robot design is presented, along with plans to install a ceiling-mounted version of the robot in the CT fluoroscopy suite at Georgetown University.
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