The new tele-robotic systems will seamlessly translate a surgeon's natural hand, wrist and finger movements into corresponding micro-movements of a variety of instrumented end-effectors positioned inside the patient. Miniaturized sensors are required on the end-effectors to avoid collisions among instruments while providing precise 3D guidance to internal targets.
The DARPA contract will fund the development of a sensor just 0,6 mm in diameter, with a cable width of 0,4 mm, and integrate it with Ascension's current microBIRD products. A prototype device will be delivered by mid-2006.
Under the leadership of Dr. Richard Satava, DARPA has already invested in the development of Ascension's microBIRD development programme. microBIRD utilizes pulsed DC magnetic field tracking technology for 3D guidance of medical instruments, such as scopes, probes and catheters, for interventional and diagnostic purposes. A key enabling technology developed as part of the programme is Ascension's "unique" flat transmitter, which slides beneath the patient, and negates ferrous metal distortion of sensor measurements.
Meeting Class 1 Type CF regulations for use within the human body, microBIRD is a key enabling technology for minimally invasive medical procedures, fitting into the working channels of needles, probes, and catheters.
microBIRD's sensors are small enough to be embedded in the distal tip of a catheter and are unaffected by intravascular ultrasound arrays. Partnering with a number of researchers and device manufacturers, Ascension is developing new applications for 3D guidance of catheters, including the deployment of stents, delivery of therapeutic agents, and advanced vascular imaging.
Employing a pulsed DC magnetic field sensing technology to minimize metallic distortion, microBIRD notably overcomes the limitations of line-of-sight tracking devices, which are bulky and easily occluded. Jack Scully, Ascension's Vice President of New Business Development, stated: "microBIRD sensors continue their march downward in size. We can now simultaneously track up to eight miniature sensors with a new project underway to reduce our smallest (1,3 mm) sensor down to just 0,6 mm. These new sensors will precisely guide even 3 French catheters to internal targets without worrying about metal and noise errors."
Ascension Technology Corporation, based in Burlington, Vermont, USA, is a world expert in magnetic motion tracking solutions for medical applications. For more information about Ascension trackers, you can visit the Ascension Web site or read the VMW July 2005 article Ascension and Schaerer-Mayfield to show new image-guided surgery system at major European medical conference.