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Technique Calculates X-Rays for Minimally Invasive Surgery

Edgar Lobaton (North Carolina State University)

Edgar Lobaton (North Carolina State University)

Engineers and computer scientists from North Carolina State University in Raleigh and University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill devised a technique for determining the X-rays to track surgical tools in minimally-invasive procedures. NC State engineering professor Edgar Lobaton is the lead author on a paper describing this technique to be presented next month at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Karlsruhe, Germany.

Lobaton and colleagues developed the technique to help surgeons better track the progress of the long, thin, highly flexible instruents used in minimally-invasive surgeries, the kind that require only a small incision. Smaller incisions reduce the chance for infection and reduce the amount of time needed by the patient for recovery, but surgeons need to know the precise location of the instruments in the patient’s body.

X-rays have always been available to track instruments used in these procedures, but physicians have been reluctant to expose patients to any more X-rays than necessary. To meet that requirement, Lobaton and colleagues wrote a computer program calculating the number and angles of X-rays for any given minimally-invasive surgery.

Physicians enter the procedure to be performed and the level of precision needed to guide the instruments. The algorithm then takes those variables and calculates the number of X-rays needed, as well as the angles of each exposure, to produce the level of detail needed to guide the instruments. The greater the level of detail needed to track the instruments, the more X-rays would be required.

“We have now developed an algorithm,” says Lobaton, “to determine the fewest number of X-rays that need to be taken, as well as what angles they need to be taken from, in order to give surgeons the information they need on a surgical device’s location in the body.”

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