Robot surgery promises faster patient turnaround
Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and offers the advantages of shorter hospital stays and faster patient convalescence. Unlike conventional surgery, laparoscopic surgery requires only a few small incisions in the abdominal wall to introduce surgical instruments and a laparoscopic camera.
A major problem in laparoscopic surgery lies in the coordination between the surgeon and camera assistant maneuvering the camera. Also, the camera image may become unstable due to operator fatigue.
To overcome this, Drs. Guo-Oing Wei and Klaus Arbter at the German Aerospace Research Establishment (Germany) have developed a visual tracking method for stereo laparoscopes. By using a stereo laparoscope coupled to a MaxVideo MV200 image-processing system from Datacube (Danvers, MA), Gou-Oing and Arbter automatically track the surgical instrument.
In building the software, the color distribution of a number of laparoscopic images was analyzed and a unique color designated to the surgical instrument. In this way, even if only a small part of the surgical instrument is available, reliable data of the position of the instrument are obtained. This information is then used to control the motion of an automated endoscope system from Computer Motion (Goleta, CA).
To date, the system has been tested in the abdomen of a pig at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) with apparent success. For more information on this system contact Patrick.Wunsch@dlr.de.