Towards Ultrasonic Autonomous Surgery
In recent years, there have been multiple advancements within the area of ultrasonic surgical devices and within robotically assisted surgery, with the da Vinci surgical system being the best known. However, many current robotically assisted surgeries take place at lower levels of autonomy such as telesurgery or robotic guidance and there is still work that can be done to allow for fully autonomous surgery, even with respect to simple procedures. My project would look towards a system that is able to carry out simple surgical procedures without human intervention.
Some aims would be to:
- consider if the feedback from the ultrasonic surgical device is suitable to provide the required weight on bit control for the robotic manipulator,
- develop a suitable control algorithm, or a suite of control algorithms associated with different procedures or devices, to allow the feedback from the ultrasonic surgical device to dictate the movements of the robot manipulator,
- consider the redesign of the robot manipulator to ensure that the use of the ultrasonic surgical device is being optimised,
- study the impact of different ultrasonic surgical devices on the control algorithms developed, test the developed system/s under clinical guidance.
This project brings together knowledge of ultrasonics, mechanical and electrical design, and control algorithm design, to allow the development of a system that will lay the foundation for ultrasonic autonomous surgery.
Abdul Hadi Chibli
Combined Ultrasound Sensing and Therapeutic Tools for Robotic Surgery
I am a PhD student in the Future Ultrasonic Engineering (FUSE) CDT working on ultrasonic dissecting and hybrid ultrasonic imaging tools for robotic surgery. Recently, Robot assisted surgery such as Da Vinci robot has been advancing through every aspect of hospital life, replacing both open and laparoscopic surgeries, due to its significant improvements in visibility and manipulation. For this reason, My PhD project will focus in developing a tool for a robot assisted surgery.
There is still work that can be done to allow advancing such a technology. Here I will focus in developing ultrasonic tool. That because as the ultrasonic Dissection, resection, and cauterization tool like the harmonic Ace which is compatible with Da Vinci assisted robot proved to be better than conventional tool in term of minimizing the blood loss. And on the same time, ultrasonic imaging system has been proved to be safer than the CT scan, because it avoids the body from radiation exposure and proved to work in real time and less bulky compared to MRI system. For this reason, my PhD will focus in developing a Combined Ultrasound Sensing and dissection Tools for robot assisted surgery. I am excited to move forward in this research
Acoustic Metamaterials for Ultrasonic Applications
My PhD will focus on the design of metamaterials that manipulate acoustic waves in the ultrasonic regime. Metamaterials can be defined as artificial materials capable of manipulating waveform media via their structure, rather than their innate material properties, allowing properties previously unobtainable in natural materials to be achieved.
The desired application of these metamaterials involves the manufacture of ultrasonic transducer backing layers with superior sound absorption; in comparison to standard backing materials (Epoxy layers with tungsten inclusions). Currently, my research has focused on developing mathematical models describing the acoustic behaviour of various Helmholtz resonator arrays, and thus, replicating these models using simulations (ANSYS/Onscale).
My initial research also includes material calibration using 3D stereolithography (SLA) printers, with later experimentation to include printing and testing metamaterial prototypes.
Optimising Acoustic Cavitation Mediated Decontamination of Surgical Instrumentation
In the UK alone, over 4.7 million surgical procedures are performed each year. Each surgery requires the use of around 20 individual surgical instruments. These instruments are often expensive and complex, hence are reusable. It follows that each instrument must be decontaminated between procedures. Decontamination requires each instrument to be completely cleaned of foreign material with subsequent disinfection and sterilisation. The cleaning stage is critical in avoiding patient exposure to infections carried on dirty instruments.
A principal tool in surgical instrument decontamination is ultrasonic cleaning. In this process Instruments are submerged in a liquid and energy is delivered to the surfaces of the instrument in the form of ultrasonic waves that create cavitation bubbles within the liquid volume. When these bubbles collapse, shockwaves are generated that remove contamination from adjacent surfaces. In partnership with Aseptium, this project will investigate several perspectives of ultrasonic cleaning of complex surgical instruments in order to better understand the precise mechanisms by which bubbles clean, leading into further optimising the cleaning process to deliver the best decontamination procedure possible. Both state of the art high-speed cameras and novel in-house acoustic detection devices will be utilised for imaging rapid acoustic cavitation bubble dynamics & interaction with the instrumentation, and monitoring & mapping of the acoustic signal, respectively.
Automation for Patient Screening
Ultrasound is one of the most accessible and highly used clinical diagnostic modality currently available on the market today but much of its potential still remains untapped. This project focuses on getting the most out of ultrasound using advanced AI techniques to future proof ultrasound at a tool for the clinicians of tomorrow.
This collaboration between Canon and FUSE CDT, aims to investigate image-based solutions to diagnostic, automation, and workflow problems. Alistair will work closely from within the industry partner to achieve the intended goals with many exciting potential avenues to build upon as the collaboration progresses.
Being deeply embedded into the host company the student is able to quickly react to the needs of the project. For Alistair the opportunity to build upon existing skills while working with a highly regarded Industrial partner was too good to pass up. This project could potentially include machine learning/Ai, computer vision, and automation all of which are highly in demand across scientific and industrial fields. Medical ultrasound allows for highly accurate real time medical imaging without the use of ionizing radiation leading to many potential uses in patient screening.
Ultrasound screening techniques are currently a hot topic of research with many potential clinical uses in the future. Having a student with clinical expertise backed up not only by the professional experience already within the host industrial sponsor but also within FUSE CDT itself has the potential to take advantages of these techniques as they are identified.
Ultrasonic Drilling and Tunnelling Robot
Traditional drilling and penetration technologies involve mechanical, pneumatic, or hydraulic mechanisms, which utilise large forces and are power hungry. These technologies are large and often cause damage to the surrounding environment. Ultrasound drilling technology has shown to be a promising alternative: it is more compact, less power consuming and produces less damage to its surroundings. Therefore, they can be more easily integrated into robotic systems for use in remote applications and extreme environments.
In ultrasonic drilling, waves are emitted from a transducer at frequencies above 20kHz. The waves then propagate to an amplifying horn, which subsequently produces vibrations into the surrounding material such as soil. This then enables the drill to proceed further into the soil. Studies have proven that ultrasonic drilling can reduce the forces and torques required during drilling by 30%, which consequently reduces power consumption.
The aim of my PhD is to miniaturise the ultrasonic drill for use in robotic tunneling applications. The project will involve optimization of the horn design using Solidworks, simulation of the design in Abaqus and field testing to study its effectiveness in different materials resembling the environment in which the drill is to be applied.