NWO grant of 700,000 euros for AI support in robotic surgery

NWO grant of 700,000 euros for AI support in robotic surgery

Professor of Robotic Surgery Jelle Ruurda and physician-researcher Robin den Boer of UMC Utrecht will develop AI warning systems for robotic surgery. These systems will alert the surgeon when potentially dangerous movements are made during an operation. For example, if they get too close to vital organs. They are doing this with a new NWO grant of 700,000 euros and together with Natasha Alechina of Utrecht University.

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Robotic surgery is often less invasive compared to traditional surgery. However, it requires considerable training to become a skilled and experienced robotic surgeon. Even experienced surgeons sometimes make mistakes, which can lead to life-threatening complications in the patient. The high degree of magnification by cameras during surgery, can lead to loss of context. Surgical orientation is quite a challenge in this regard. The system Ruurda and Den Boer now want to develop will "look over the surgeon's shoulder" during an operation. The system will warn if the surgeon is about to make a mistake.

Nor does the robotic surgeon currently get good feedback of how much pressure the robotic manipulators are applying to the patient's body. Or of how fast or how evenly the robot is moving. Ruurda and Den Boer want to develop a system that alerts the surgeon if they get close to parts of the body that are not part of the operation. But also if the surgeon moves too fast (or too slow, which could be a sign of fatigue) during surgery. Such a system would be particularly valuable for less experienced surgeons or surgeons in training when learning a new surgical procedure.

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