The first generation of surgical robots revolutionized laparoscopic surgery through the innovative robotic mechanism design and teleoperated motion control. While the success of the first generation technology has been tremendous, only less than 3% surgeries are performed using robot today due to the existing technical limitations. At CAIR, we believe the key to further unleash the potential of surgical robot lies in creating fully sensorized minimally invasive surgical robotic system with self-evolving intelligence. Such system will ensure surgical safety, free surgeons from labor-intensive tasks, enable unprecedented novel surgical treatments and thus ultimately improve surgical outcomes for patients.
Research for Minimally Invasive Flexible Endoscopic Surgcial Robots
Principal Investigator: Prof LIU Hongbin
Co-Investigator: Prof CHAN Tat Ming Danny(Dept of Surgery, CUHK)
MicroNeuro is the world's first flexible robotic system for minimally invasive neurosurgery. The system integrates technologies such as flexible endoscopy, precision control and artificial intelligence to address the challenges introduced by the fragile brain tissue, small space, and difficulty in surgical manipulation, breaking the limit of human hand-eye-brain capability. MicroNeuro can be used to perform deep-seated intracranial surgeries, such as ventricle surgeries, decompression for trigeminal neuralgia and cerebral hemorrhage, helping millions of patients to relieve pain and save lives.
MicroNeuro robot has significant clinical values for intracranial neurosurgery. Existing techniques mainly use rigid endoscope or microscope to reach the location of the surgical site. Thus, in order to artificially create a“linear”surgical trajectory, a large bone window needs to be created on the skull and healthy brain tissues need to be retracted. All of these manipulations introduce damage to the brain and increase the likelihood of surgical complication.
- Unlike existing techniques, MicroNeuro uses a flexible endoscope, allowing extra safety, dexterity and enabling nonlinear surgical trajectory.
- Using preoperative planning based on MRI images, MicroNeuro reaches the targeted location through the natural brain cavities in the least invasive manner.
- MicroNeuro is suitable for conducting most of intracranial surgeries minimally invasively, including cerebral hemorrhage decompression for trigeminal neuralgia, which could benefit millions of patients worldwide.
MicroNeuro has conducted several cadaver trials of endoscopic third ventriculostomy and pineal biopsy for the treatment of pineal region germ cell tumours. Existing surgical approach needs two surgeons and often requires two invasive penetration trajectories to the cortex, which causes great damage to the normal brain tissue. The first time in the world, the team proved that using MicroNeuro, a single surgeon can complete all the required surgical tasks through one skull hole with one trajectory, and thus reducing brain tissue damage by at least 50%. More importantly, reduced invasiveness also led to less surgical complications.
Prof TM Chan and Prof H Liu conduct pineal biopsy using MicroNeuro during a cadaver trial
Research Strategy for MicroNeuro
MicroNeuro team aims to develop a fully sensorized, and AI-enabled minimally invasive surgical flexible robot for neurosurgery. The goal is to digitize surgery and realize standardized treatments to let high-quality medical service benefit more patients across the world. To achieve this goal, the team is striving to push the frontier of both theoretical and translational research in the following aspects:
- Solving the challenge of carrying out complex surgical manipulations within a very confine space, through novel instrument design and multi-modal fused motion control methodology;
- Developing advanced intraoperative sensing technologies for flexible surgical robots, including tactile sensing, shape sensing, localization and navigation;
- Developing a cutting-edge digital-twin neurosurgery simulation system, including surgical planning, real-time Augmented Reality and advanced machine intelligence, such as data-driven machine learning.
MicroNeuro has attracted much attention within Hong Kong and Mainland China. During 20 th Anniversary of the HKSTP on July 6, 2022, MicroNeuro was selected as one of the seven latest Innovations demonstrated to the Chief Executive, Mr. Lee Ka-Chiu. MicroNeuro has been reported by numerous media from both Hong Kong and Mainland China as shown below:
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Principal Investigator: Prof LEI Zhen
In the videos taken by the operating room cameras, Safesurgery AI system can automatically put mosaic on the faces to protect doctors' and patients' privacy. Safesurgery AI system also tracks Doctors' and Nurses' behaviors by recognizing the movements of many body parts, give alerts of abnormal behaviors, especially violations of aseptic requirements.
Medical Instrument Counting
Safesurgery AI system continues to detect and count surgical instruments during the surgery, give alerts to mishandling and misplacement of the instruments. It can greatly prevent the doctor from forgetting the instrument inside the patient.
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Principal Investigator: Prof WANG Shuangyi
Developing core robotic technologies to assist precise rehabilitation & treatment under the guidance of ultrasound, eg, ultrasound-guided ablation, ultrasound-guided injection
Scar-free option for patients, minimally invasive, precision treatment, no X-ray radiation
Developed the robotic ultrasound module which allows remote control and autonomous scanning
- Allow accurately manipulate both the ultrasound probe and the treatment device robotically
- Allow remote guidance & operation by experts
- Improve the precision and ergonomics
- Reduce the training time of clinicians by automatic planning and guiding the insertion