Canadian space technology expert MDA builds robot for neurosurgery

Richmond 04 March 2002MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) has signed a $6 million contract with the University of Calgary to develop an advanced robotic device for use in complex neurosurgical procedures. The contract is part of a $25 million robotic project introduced at the University of Calgary, Calgary Health Region.

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A team of MDA engineers is working with surgeons from the Seaman Family MR Research Centre to create the "neuroArm", an advanced robotic system that will enhance the quality, accuracy, and efficiency of neurosurgical procedures.

The robotic system will consist of two robotic arms, each with at least six degrees-of-freedom, and a third arm equipped with two cameras providing 3D stereoscopic views. The system will function under the direct control of a surgeon at the robotic workstation, who will have a virtual sense of touch.

"The field of surgical robotics represents a new, long term business opportunity to develop spin-offs of our space technology", stated Dave Caddey, Executive Vice President and General Manager of MDA's Space Missions Group. "We are bringing information extraction technology together with robotics and software technology to create a medical robot, and improve the quality of life for people who need neurosurgery."

MD Robotics' neurosurgery robot is an excellent example of applied innovation, which is a spin-off of Government investments through the Canadian Space Agency in the design of leading-edge space robotics technologies.

"This exciting project reflects a unique collaboration between medicine, government, industry, and community leaders. It will result in the design, construction and integration of an advanced robot for magnetic resonance-guided brain and spinal surgery", explained Dr. Garnette Sutherland, Professor and Chief, Neurosurgery, University of Calgary, Calgary Health Region.

"The project is distinctly Canadian. It involves surgical scientists, investigators at the National Research Council, Innovative Magnetic Resonance Imaging Systems (IMRIS), the Seaman Family MR Research Centre and MDA. The robotic system will enhance microsurgical precision and accuracy."

Work on the state-of-the-art robotic surgery facility at Foothills Hospital in Calgary has already begun. Funding for the programme is being provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Seaman Family of Calgary, and additional private funding.


Leslie Versweyveld

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