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STAR Team

STAR robot is finalist in NASA iTech challenge

STAR Team

Children’s National Health System’s proprietary robotic surgical technology Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) has been named one of the top ten finalists in the 2017 NASA iTech call for ideas challenge.

The Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation’s intelligent Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) has been named one of the top ten finalists in the 2017 NASA iTech challenge.

The team will present the project at the NASA iTech Forum on July 12-13, 2017 at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, VA, where leaders from NASA and prospective stakeholders will evaluate the 10 finalists and select three top solutions.

“We’re honored to be selected as a finalist in this prestigious challenge,” said Peter C. Kim, M.D., vice president and associate surgeon in chief at Sheikh Zayed Institute at Children’s National. “Our technology is capable of many solutions that would be useful as part of NASAs deep space exploration, including intelligent pods capable of common intelligent autonomous surgical procedures.”

A cutting-edge system, STAR was the first to perform a successful autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery on a live subject in May 2016 and is licensed to Omniboros.

Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot

Robotic system automates soft-tissue surgery

Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot

STAR’s performance was measurably better in some respects, compared with surgeons performing the same procedure manually or with conventional robotic techniques.

What’s known

Robotic surgery has been increasingly adopted for a variety of procedures. However, conventional robotic surgery is still controlled by individual surgeons. One way to avoid variabilities and improve outcomes is to automate entire procedures or parts of procedures. Thus far, autonomous robotic surgery has been limited to parts of the body with rigid anatomy, because of the unpredictability of soft tissues. These structures can move in unexpected ways during cutting, suturing or cauterizing. No autonomous robotic systems for soft-tissue procedures have been developed due to technology lags, including a lack of vision systems that can distinguish and track tissue in dynamic surgical environments, and intelligent algorithms.

What’s new

A team of researchers led by Peter C.W. Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President, and Axel Krieger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National Health System, developed the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) for performing autonomous soft-tissue surgeries. The researchers tested its capability in three areas: Suturing a cut along a length of suspended intestine, suturing together two pieces of intestine removed from an experimental model and suturing together two pieces of intestine inside a living experimental model. The autonomous robot’s performance was measurably better in some respects, compared with surgeons trained for at least seven years performing the same procedure manually or with conventional robotic techniques. STAR’s stitches were more consistent and less prone to leaks. This demonstration of supervised autonomous surgical tasks by a robot promises that surgeons can improve their technical and decision-making skills in the not-too-distant future, working collaboratively with intelligent robots to improve clinical outcomes.

Questions for future research

Q: Can autonomous robots be used for soft-tissue procedures more complicated than suturing?
Q: Can this system be miniaturized for complex procedures taking place in a confined space, such as suturing together blood vessels?
Q: How can we make more intelligent robots available to all surgeons?

Source: Supervised autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery.” Shademan A., R.S. Decker, J.D. Opfermann, S. Leonard, A. Krieger and P.C.W. Kim. Published by Science Translational Medicine on May 4, 2016.

Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR)

Popular Science awards smart tissue autonomous robot

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Technology developed in the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children’s National has been named one of the 12 Most Important Health Innovations of the Year in the November/December 2016 issue of Popular Science. Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR), a technology that performed the first supervised, autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery on a live subject (in vivo) this year, has been awarded a 2016 Popular Science Best of What’s New Award in the Health category.

How the smart tissue autonomous robot works

STAR removes the surgeon’s hands from the procedure, instead utilizing the surgeon as supervisor, with soft tissue suturing autonomously planned and performed by the STAR robotic system.  The system integrates near infrared florescent (NIRF) markers and 3-D plenoptic vision to provide uninhibited tracking of tissue motion. This tracking is combined with an intelligent algorithm that autonomously adjusts the surgical plan in real time as tissue movements occur.

About Popular Science health innovations of the year

Each year, the editors of Popular Science review thousands of products in search of the top 100 tech innovations of the year—breakthrough products and technologies that represent a significant leap in their categories.

The Best of What’s New awards honor the innovations that shape the future,” says Kevin Gray, Executive Editor, Popular Science. “From lifesaving technology to incredible space engineering to gadgets that are just breathtakingly cool, this is the best of what’s new.”