Volume 5, Number 4 July/August 1997
ROBOTIC BRAIN SURGEON
ASA unveiled its revolutionary robotic "brain surgeon" that learns the brain's physical characteristics at the Medical Design and Manufacturing Show in New York in June.
The device could help surgeons avoid dangerous hemorrhaging during delicate brain operations and lead to "smart" surgical tools that will increase safety, accuracy and efficiency of neurosurgical, exploratory and breast and prostate cancer surgical procedures.
The robot gives surgeons finer control of surgical instruments during delicate brain operations. It is still under development though human trials are expected within one year.
"Potentially, the simple robot will be able to 'feel' brain structures better than any human surgeon, making slow, very precise movements during an operation," said Principal Investigator Dr. Robert W. Mah of Ames Research Center.
The robotic surgeon "learns" the characteristics of different kinds of tissues by using neural net software, the same technology that focuses camcorders.
Ames is developing robotic surgery to deal with medical emergencies that may occur during long-duration human space flights.
NASA invests more than $5 billion in technology development annually, said Michael Weingarten, NASA manager for business development. "It makes sense to bring that cutting-edge technology back to U.S. taxpayers when such a huge investment is being made," Weingarten said. "Companies can work with NASA or with licensed NASA technicians in efforts that will lead to new company products. We can explore the best way to partner depending on each client's needs."
For more information about the robotic brain surgeon, contact the National Technology