Robotics and Telemedicine

Dr. Mahdi Tavakoli and his team have made tremendous strides in the world of robotics and telemedicine.

One example of success experienced by Dr. Tavakoli and his team is in the area of beating-heart surgery. Beating heart surgery has significant advantages over conventional arrested-heart surgery. The fast motion of the beating heart introduces a challenge to the surgeon (human operator). To overcome this challenge, a mechanical heart stabilizer is usually used to keep the beating heart from moving. This device however, can only reduce the motion in a localized area on the exterior surface of the beating heart.

Dr. Tavakoli and his team have designed image-guided surgery, an ultrasound guided robotic system that moves the surgical tool tip in synchrony with the beating heart. This allows surgeons to operate through teleoperation on a virtually stabilized point on the heart.

The second area of success for Dr. Tavakoli and his team has been in the area of Teleportation robotics for surgical application. Teleportation systems have been used widely in many applications such as minimally invasive telesurgery and telerehabilitation. Using a handheld control system to guide biopsy and or therapeutic needle to the appropriate organ and tissue within the body often requires precision and accuracy. Touch is one of the most important sensory inputs during the performance of surgery, biopsy and/or delivery of therapeutic agent.

Kinesthetic and tactile feedback both called haptics in surgical training remains an important gateway into the future of surgical training and telerobotic. As the human operator cannot make contact with the surgical tool, the tool-tissue interaction forces cannot be perceived by the human operator directly. Dr. Tavakoli and his team have designed a haptic system to overcome this challenge. To provide haptic feedback to the human operator, in some robot assisted systems, a force sensor is attached to the end of the surgical robot to register forces.