Robot Uses Steerable Needles to Treat Brain Clots

The image shows the robotic needle test on a phantom blood clot.

This image shows the robotic needle test with phantom blood clot made out of gelatin. Credited to Joe Howell / Vanderbilt.

Surgery to relieve the damaging pressure caused by hemorrhaging in the brain is a perfect job for a robot.

That is the basic premise of a new image-guided surgical system under development at Vanderbilt University. It employs steerable needles about the size of those used for biopsies to penetrate the brain with minimal damage and suction away the blood clot that has formed.

The system is described in an article accepted for publication in the journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. It is the product of an ongoing collaboration between a team of engineers and physicians headed by Assistant Professor Robert J. Webster III and Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery Kyle Weaver.

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