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A team at the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision are working diligently to develop custom robotic instruments that align with a given patient’s anatomy. The idea is that a knee, for example, would be imaged using an MRI machine and the resulting scan used to define where the robot can and cannot go. Targets are set and a path is defined for the robotic instrument to navigate.
Currently during this stage of development, a computer is used to simulate how various “SnakeBots” can move through the digital 3D maze. These generate trajectories that can be scored and the best candidates are chosen to move forward. Once the best are selected, they can be quickly created ahead of the procedure using a 3D printer. At this point, the SnakeBots are attached to a large robotic platform that maneuvers the bots into surgical incision sites.
“The research project aims to design snake-like robots as miniaturised and highly dexterous surgical tools, fitted with computer vision capabilities and the ability to navigate around obstacles in confined spaces such as the anatomy of the human body,” Professor Crawford said.
Associate Investigator Ross Crawford at the QUT-based Medical and Healthcare Robotics Group emphasized that the aim of the robotic system was to work with, not replace surgeons, thus ultimately improving overall patient outcomes.
“At the moment surgeons use what are best described as rigid ‘one-size-fits-all’ tools for knee arthroscopy procedures, even though patients and their anatomy can vary significantly,” Professor Crawford said.
According to iData Research, over the last few years, the total market has been driven by new developments in its two largest segments: shoulder reconstruction and the foot and ankle device market. The industry players continue to be focused on the stemless shoulder, adopting European experience in this field. The foot and ankle market experienced increasing product diversity, fueled by disease complications and patients’ demographic changes (aging, coupled with an increasing number of younger patients). The small joint reconstruction market is strongly interlinked with trauma fixation and sports medicine, forcing orthopedic surgeons to constantly expand their skills and techniques in related fields.
“The project has been proceeding at a rapid pace, mainly due to the hard work and brilliance of Andrew, supported by a team of advisors with backgrounds in mechanical engineering, mechatronics, aerospace, medicine, biology, physics and chemistry,” noted Crawford.
For Further Information
More on the small bone and joint orthopedic devices market in the U.S. can be found in a series of reports published by iData entitled the U.S. Market Report Suite for Small Bone and Joint Orthopedic Devices.