Whether performing an intricate surgery, positioning a patient, or taking a tissue sample, today’s biomedical devices are taking advantage of advanced motion control devices to ensure accurate control and movement in biomedical applications. Robots are making it possible to perform surgical procedures not only with higher precision than before, but in less time and with less pain and suffering for the patient. Moreover, improvements in the design and packaging of motors and other control components are making it possible to shrink biomedical devices and make it easier to perform procedures in tight, confined spaces.

Fig. 1. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is evaluating the use of the Armeo robot to aid the recovery of a patients recovering from neurological injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury.
Fig. 2. Tomo Therapy’s radiation therapy system uses the DMC-2153 five-axis motion controller from Galil Motion Control to precisely position the patient table.
Robots continue to find their way into the operating room, to make difficult surgical procedures more comfortable for the patient. For instance, surgeons at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago are using robots to perform minimally invasive surgery to remove the thyroid gland, without leaving an incision or scar on the patient’s neck.

Typically, removing all or part of the thyroid gland typically requires a 3- to 5- inch incision across the front of the lower neck.

“The cosmetic and psychological benefits to patients are evident immediately,” said Dr. Pier Cristoforo Giulianotti, the Lloyd M. Nyhus Professor of Surgery at UIC. “Young patients in particular are often concerned about a large visible scar, and this technique provides an alternative to traditional surgery.”

The UIC surgeons used the well-known robotic-assisted da Vinci Surgical System to remove the thyroid gland, by making one small incision under the patient’s right arm and another tiny incision in the chest. No neck incision is needed. Working from a console, the surgeon controls the movement of four robotic arms equipped with an endoscopic camera and surgical instruments. The robot provides 3-dimensional visualization, enhanced magnification and a greater range of motion to locate and remove the thyroid gland in the delicate, narrow neck space.

Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia used the ViKY® robotic holder — a technology had been developed in France by Endocontrol Medical and tested on thousands of patients in Europe — 0 to help perform the world’s first minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy. The minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy was performed on a 65-year-old man who was diagnosed with two pancreatic cysts, one of which is potentially cancerous.

Fox Chase surgeon Andrew A. Gumbs considers the robotic laparoscopic holder to be like an extra hand during surgery, adding stability and steadiness. “This system is so versatile that surgeons like me are able to use it for many different laparoscopic procedures, including those in the gastrointestinal, urologic, thoracic and gynecologic regions.” Gumbs said.

Typically, minimally invasive procedures, like a laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy require surgeons to use both hands to manipulate the surgical tools and need an assistant to manipulate the endoscope — a thin, lighted tube equipped with a camera that allows the surgeon to view the surgical field.

“The view of the surgical field is critical, so ViKY’s pinpoint accuracy helps me perform more complex procedures laparoscopically.” Unlike typical laparoscope holders, the ViKY’s system’s holder is lightweight, easy to set up and use, and takes no floor space.

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