Severe epilepsy is treated by drilling through the skull deep into the brain to destroy the small area where the seizures originate. This is invasive and risky. A team of engineers from Vanderbilt University have developed a new technique in which a robot performs the surgery by entering through the cheek. This could minimize the risk and reduce recovery time.
The robotic platform steers the nickel-titanium needle using compressed air, moving it around obstacles, operating inside the powerful magnetic field created by an MRI scanner. It’s inserted in tiny steps, allowing its position to be tracked by progressive MRI scans. The researchers tested the needle in the lab and found it to have a very high precision for the required operation.
According to Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery Joseph Neimat, “To have a system with a curved needle and unlimited access would make surgeries minimally invasive. We could do dramatic surgery with nothing more than a needle stick to the cheek.” Read more at Vanderbilt University . . .
This cut-away view of the robotic platform shows how much of the device can be made by 3-D printing:
Image: Vanderbilt University