This project addresses a very complex problem that can be expressed in a very simple form: is it possible to automate surgery?
To explore the feasibility of a solution to this problem, in this project we develop general methods for cognitive surgical robots capable of combining sensing, dexterity and cognitive capabilities to carry out autonomously simple surgical actions, such as puncturing, cutting and suturing.
As an area of strategic interest and high social impact, autonomous robotic surgery requires methods and models for assessing its quality and its impact on OR procedures,
instrumentation, and personnel training. The objectives of the I-SUR project are then to identify the critical aspects of automation in robotic surgery and to develop an integral diagnostic-planningintervention workflow, characterized by ICT methods and models that can remove, mitigate, and quantitatively assess the potential risks for the patients. Specifically, the I-SUR project will develop the following innovative technologies:
- New methods for representing the medical knowledge relevant to soft organ surgery,
- New methods for the interactive planning of surgery in deformable environments,
- New designs of dexterous, sensorized instruments for robotic surgery,
- New methods for intervention execution and monitoring,
- New methods for real time data processing and medical situation awareness,
- New communication methods between the robotic instrument and the operating surgeon.
These new systems and methods will be integrated and validated with respect to two inherently different contexts (abdominal and vascular surgery). We will quantitatively validate the adherence of our methods to strict safety criteria, using surgical phantoms and biological samples. By comparing across surgical contexts we will draw conclusions about the generality of our methods. We expect the innovations developed using this research methodology to be easily adaptable to a wide range of interventions and anatomical variants.