Wednesday, 18 Apr, 2007 Technology
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Robot to Help Neurosurgery

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Surgery can take a huge step towards the future due to a new surgical robot system, developed at University of Calgary. Surgeons' mistakes will no longer take place because the NeuroArm is going to upgrade the level of neurosurgery as well as other branches of operative medicine.

It it the first MRI-compatible robot in the world and its creator is Dr. Garnette Sutherland. For six years he has worked together with a leading team of Canadian Scientists. Dr. Garnette has cooperated with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. The cooperation lead to the design of a unique machine that doctors say is “a milestone in medical technology.”

A surgeon, through a computer workstation controls the robot. The NeuroArm works with real-time MR imaging. It helps surgeons see and works on a microscopic scale.

The testing of the NeuroArm is currently under way and the first patient is anticipated this summer.

The robot represents one of the most advanced robotic systems that people ever developed and it was created with the help of MDA, which is known for developing Canadarm and Canadarm2.

The whole project of creating the NeuroArm started in 2001 when Doc, B.J. and Don Seaman invested $2 million to start the project. The two oilpatch pioneers and brothers are the namesakes of the Seaman Family MR Research Centre. They started supporting the research centre when it began the development of the first intraoperative MRI scanner in the world.

The NeuroArm required an international collaboration of professionals from different fields, including physics, software, optics and mechanics.

Dr. Sutherland outlined that the team is not only looking forward to create a robot, their creation is going to build a medical robotics program. "We want the neuroArm technology to be translated into the global community, i.e. hospitals around the world," he said.

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