Basque researchers develop a robot to perform spinal interventions

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

A team at the CEIT-IK4 research centre, headquartered in San Sebastián and associated with the University of Navarra, has developed a robot that helps the surgeon to perform a spinal column operation called transpedicular fixation, which has previously been performed manually.

The prototype is already finished and trials with pigs will begin in September. The purpose of the robot for transpedicular fixation operations is to help surgeons immobilize damaged or broken vertebrae so they do not affect the surrounding structures.

The Intervention, which is usually performed manually, consists of inserting screws through the vertebral pedicles and the subsequent union of these by metal bars to form a support structure.

The robot assistant prototype has taken about five years to develop, in the framework of a project called ELCANO, which obtained funding in 2012 from the Innpacto programme of the Ministry for Economy and Competitiveness.

The system consists of three modules: the first is planning software, which enables the surgeon to organise every detail of the operation, the second is a robotic arm that assists the surgeon in the operation, and the third is a navigation and image-guided system.

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