Project Summary

Lasers form an increasingly common tool for precision treatment of pathological conditions on delicate and vital human organs. Laser phonomicrosurgery, which is a suite of complex otolaryngological surgical techniques for the treatment of minute abnormalities in the larynx, is one such example. However, laser aiming control for this procedure relies completely on the dexterity of surgeons, who must operate through a microscope and deal with its associated poor ergonomics, and this can have a strong impact on the quality of the procedures. In addition, the laser beam is directed from a comparatively large range (400mm), resulting in accuracy and consistency problems, and requiring extensive surgeon training.

In this multidisciplinary project a redesign of the laser phonomicrosurgery setup is proposed to create an advanced augmented micro-surgical system through research and development of real-time cancer tissue imaging, surgeon-machine interfaces, assistive teleoperation, intelligent (cognitive) safety systems, and augmented-reality. Furthermore, research and development of new endoscopic tools and precision micro-robotic end effectors will allow relocating the laser actuator closer to the surgical site. This will create unprecedented levels of accessibility and precision, while the surgeon will operate in a more ergonomic, information-rich, and assistive environment.

The outcomes of the project will be improved quality, safety, and effectiveness in laser phonomicrosurgery, enabling total tumor removal with minimal damage to healthy tissue. The research efforts herein will generate new knowledge in the design and control of medical micro-mechatronic devices; cancer tissue imaging; assistive teleoperation in medicine; physician-robot interfaces; and cognitive computer vision. These technological advances will pave the way towards new and safer minimally invasive laser microsurgeries, leading to a significantly enhanced capacity for cancer treatment in general.