Robotic surgical simulator

A collaboration between the Center for Robotic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the University at Buffalo’s (UB) School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has led to the development of a new surgical simulator.

The simulator closely approximates the touch and feel of the da Vinci robotic surgical system developed by Sunnyvale, California-based Intuitive Surgical.

’Until now, surgeons have not had sufficient opportunities outside the operating room to gain extensive training in robotic techniques,’ said Dr Khurshid A Guru, director of the Center for Robotic Surgery at RPCI.

Instead, he explained, surgeons usually start by ’shadowing’ a colleague who is more experienced with robotics in the operating room. Only once they are proficient do they start performing robotic surgeries on their own patients.

The new Robotic Surgical Simulator, or RoSS, addresses the need for a realistic training environment for robot-assisted surgery, a field that is expected to constitute a significant number of all surgeries within the next five to seven years.

Dr Thenkurussi Kesavadas, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB and head of its Virtual Reality Lab, invented the RoSS with Guru and founded the Western New York based spin-off company, Simulated Surgical Systems, to commercialise the simulators.

The SUNY Research Foundation and Health Research, the technology transfer arm of Roswell Park, jointly licensed the RoSS technology to Simulated Surgical Systems. The company, which employs several engineers who are skilled in developing virtual simulation software for surgical applications, plans to begin selling the RoSS by the end of 2010.

Already, at least 70 per cent of all prostate surgeries in the US are performed using robotic surgical systems. Robotic surgeries are generally less invasive, cause less pain, require shorter hospital stays and allow faster recoveries than conventional surgery.