Lung biopsies can be difficult procedures to perform while maintaining precision on a moving organ is of utmost importance. To increase the accuracy of radiologists placing the biopsy needle exactly where needed, a collaboration between researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT created the Robopsy robotic assist system. This technology is essentially a remotely guided needle that is imaged under CT as the physician manipulates it in a real time.
Here’s more about the device from Robopsy’s website:
A small, CT compliant, lightweight, disposable actuator device that can grip, orient and insert a biopsy needle will sit upon the patient right inside the CT gantry. This device will be coupled to nondisposable control electronics and a control interface to enable a doctor to carry out the biopsy insertion from the radiation shielded control room, while imaging simultaneously.
Patient care is of paramount importance. Robopsy will facilitate earlier, more accurate diagnoses, as initial trials indicate that lesions smaller than 5 mm can be targeted. The rate of pneumothorax will decrease as a result of fewer failed pleural penetrations. We estimate that procedure times will be cut from 120 to 60 minutes resulting in less anesthetized time for the patient as well as a per-procedure cost saving of around $1000 and increased CT scanner throughput. Doctors will also sustain reduced radiation dosages since some current procedures cannot be successfully performed without simultaneous scanning and the lead-vested doctor’s presence patient-side.
Robopsy was designed in close collaboration with the MGH Radiology department to address doctors’ specific needs. It represents a much-needed evolution, rather than a revolution, and is expected to integrate seamlessly into the existing procedure. The doctor will remain in complete control and will be responsible for closing the imaging-actuation loop by observing real-time CT images while remotely controlling the needle’s position with an intuitive software interface. From the patient’s perspective, Robopsy can be thought of as providing doctors with an extended third hand, which is immune to radiation, does not tremor, and has pin-point accuracy.