Hamlyn Centre News
Toward a Versatile Robotic Platform for Fluoroscopy and MRI-Guided Endovascular Interventions: A Pre-Clinical Study
6th August 2019
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain as the most common cause of death worldwide. CVDs are disorders and diseases affecting the heart or blood vessels, which lead to heart attacks and strokes. However, with the combined efforts of surgeons, radiologists, cardiologists, physicists and engineers, endovascular interventions have become a mainstay of treatment for vascular diseases. These minimally invasive and image-guided treatments are performed by manipulating thin and flexible instruments (catheters and guidewires) to targeted blood vessels combined with different treatment options including stenting, embolization and ablation. Recently, there has been a growing interest in robotic platforms that can perform the tasks mentioned above. Remotely manipulated robotic systems are utilized to perform minimally invasive endovascular interventions. Compared to manual interventions, these systems can improve precision, stability, and comfort, eliminating physiological tremor and reducing radiation exposure both for patients and operators.
Our research team at the Hamlyn Centre developed a versatile robotic platform for fluoroscopy and MRI-guided endovascular interventions. The main benefits of this methodology include reduced recovery time, improvement of clinical skills and procedural facilitation. Currently, robotic assistance, precision, and stability of instrument manipulation are compensated by the lack of haptic feedback and an excessive amount of radiation to the patient. Our team proposes this novel master-slave robotic platform that aims to bring the haptic feedback benefit on the master side, providing an intuitive user interface, and clinical familiar workflow. The slave robot is capable of manipulating conventional catheters and guidewires in multi-modal imaging environments. The system has been initially tested in a phantom cannulation study under fluoroscopic guidance, evaluating its reliability and procedural protocol. As the slave robot has been entirely produced by additive manufacturing and using pneumatic actuation, MR compatibility is enabled and was evaluated in a preliminary study. Results of both studies strongly support the applicability of the robot in different imaging environments and prospective clinical translation.
This novel technology not only won the Best Design Award in the Sugical Robot Challenge 2019 (was held during the Hamlyn Symposium 2019) but also will be published in IROS 2019 International Conference.
M. E. M. K. Abdelaziz, D. Kundrat, M. Pupillo, G. Dagnino, T. M. Y. Kwok, W. Chi, V. Groenhuis, F. J. Siepel, C. Riga, S. Stramigioli, G.Z. Yang, “Toward a Versatile Robotic Platform for Fluoroscopy and MRI-Guided Endovascular Interventions: A Pre-Clinical Study”, in 2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2019.
4th July 2019
International Robotics Showcase 2019: Human-Robot Interaction in Space
On 27thJune, right after the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2019, our FAIR-SPACE Research team at the Hamlyn Centre showcased a series of demos about Human-Robot Interaction at the International Robotics Showcase 2019.
Space innovative wearable
One of the demos our FAIR-SPACE Research team demonstrated at the event was the sensing spacesuit. To monitor astronaut’s physiological signals and enhance their musculoskeletal movements, our Hamlyn Centre’s research in low power, flexible bio-signal sensors, sensing algorithms using machine learning and assistive robotics could be incorporated into the spacesuit. As a spacesuit is multi-layered, we envision our technologies to be useful on at least two layers of the spacesuit: the innermost layer for monitoring of physiological signals and an assistive layer for musculoskeletal movements. In addition to the garment, our work on brain computer interfaces and VR could be incorporated into the space helmet for better situation awareness.
Virtual reality (VR)
Virtual reality (VR) is one way to create simulated experiences. Given access to space is not common, VR could be very useful for training and designing for space. Indeed, NASA has a VR laboratory for training astronauts. Hamlyn Centre’s research on linking the operation in a virtual International Space Station (ISS) to haptics feedback is the beginning of a test bed to develop models for multi-model HRI interactions. The movie our research team showcased along with the interactive VR demo we let the visitors to experience is an invitation to the visitors to discuss the use of VR, multi-modal interactions and the challenges in designing for space.
In space, on-orbit operations are crucial for the construction and maintenance of platforms, such as the International Space Station (ISS), and for the tele-operation of the planetary rovers from the orbit. Human-robot interaction remains a crucial part of the assembly and servicing tasks, whilst tasks will be mostly performed by the robots due to the nature of the extreme environment. In our demo, we transferred technologies that are currently being researched in tele-operated surgery to tele-operated space operations and explored the paradigm of shared autonomy. The technologies to be explored include the human-robot collaborative teleoperation system, haptic feedback, motion planning and control, and augmented reality.
Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)
Another highlight our FAIR-SPACE Research team brought into the showcase was the application of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) in space environment. In order to monitor astronauts’ vital status, the Hamlyn Centre is developing technologies for understanding how the unusual environment of space affects cognitive state of the astronauts. We use a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) to monitor the brain signals of astronauts and detect workload, attention focus, disorientation and motion sickness. These models could then be used to support human-robot interaction and team in space.
21st May 2019
Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics (23rd– 26th June 2019): announcing key programme highlights plus Clinical Leaders’ Forum
12thannual Hamlyn Symposium features finals of international Surgical Robot Challenge, full two-day conference and interactive workshops, plus eminent Clinical Leaders’ Forum
The Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery at Imperial College London today announces the key programme highlights of its Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2019 (#HSMR19) which returns this June for its 12thconsecutive year. The Symposium is the leading annual international conference on medical robotics, current clinical practice and emerging technologies in robotic surgery, with highlight activities this year including:
- The final of the Surgical Robot Challenge 2019, an international competition showcasing the latest innovations in Surgical Robotics
- Full programme of interactive workshops exploring hot topics and cutting-edge technologies
- Clinical Leaders’ Forum discussion on applying new technologies in clinical practice
- Two-day main Symposium hosting international, peer-reviewed papers, alongside invited world-renowned speakers
The full conference programme will feature invited keynote speakers, paper authors and delegates from leading medical, science and technology institutions covering clinical specialities in Urology, Cardiac Surgery, Neuro Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, General Surgery, Gynaecology, ENT, Orthopaedic and Paediatric Surgery. A range of unique, hands-on workshops will be on offer spanning topics including bionic technologies and implantable robots, e-skins and advanced materials for Soft Robotics, and robotic autonomy in surgery.
This year’s Symposium theme is “Clinical Challenges & Levels of Autonomy” with an anticipated stand-out event, the Clinical Leaders’ Forum, to be held on 25thJune 2019 14:30 – 15:30, at the Royal Geographical Society, London. The forum will bring together an eminent panel of leading robotic surgeons in different fields of expertise to discuss the ways in which technologies can best be applied in clinical practice. Invited keynote speakers include:
- John Rogers, Northwestern University, USA
- Alexander Meining, University of Würzburg, Germany
- Moshe Shoham, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
- Conor Walsh, Harvard University, USA
- Paolo Dario, The Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa
- Dinesh Nathwani, Imperial College London
The Hamlyn Symposium and the finals of the prestigious Surgical Robot Challenge – held during the Symposium – are core events of UK Robotics Week, which returns at the end of June.
Commenting on the Hamlyn Symposium, Professor Guang-Zhong Yang PhD, FREng, Director and Co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery at Imperial College London, said: “The Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics has built a formidable reputation as an indispensable forum for surgeons, roboticists and engineers from across the globe, to network and explore the latest developments in medical robotics. The wide-ranging and exciting programme we have convened this year promises to deliver another exceptional event for our delegates and we are looking forward to welcoming the world’s leading researchers in medical robotics to London and providing a showcase of the very best innovations in this exciting area.”
The News released on Imperial News: Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics (23rd – 26th June 2019)
For more details about the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2019, please visit: https://www.ukras.org/hamlyn/
For more information about the activities and events programme for UK Robotics Week 2019, please visit https://www.ukras.org/robotics-week/, follow @UKRobotics on Twitter (hashtags #UKRoboticsWeek, #UKRW19)
2nd April 2019
Frontiers of Medical Robotics: From Concept to Systems to Clinical Translation
Earlier diagnosis, improved efficiency, and delivery of therapeutic measures in combination with advances in surgical techniques have brought improved prognosis and functional outcome to patients, prolonging life and continuously extending the boundary of survival. As a result, the role of clinicians has undoubtedly become more demanding, requiring the handling of much multimodal, multidimensional, multiscale, interventional, metabolic, and system-level information beyond anatomical details. Early diagnosis also means smaller target lesions, requiring not only minimally invasive access but also precision intervention that challenges the perceptual and sensory capabilities of the surgeons, in many cases requiring super human dexterity, vision, reasoning, and decision making. In this regard, medical robotics has a significant role to play in directing the future of surgery toward precision intervention and targeted therapy.
Medical robotics is poised to transform all aspects of medicine— from surgical intervention to targeted therapy, rehabilitation, and hospital automation. A key area is the development of robots for minimally invasive interventions. This review provides a detailed analysis of the evolution of interventional robots and discusses how the integration of imaging, sensing, and robotics can influence the patient care pathway toward precision intervention and patient specific treatment. It outlines how closer coupling of perception, decision, and action can lead to enhanced dexterity, greater precision, and reduce dinvasiveness. It provide sacritical analysis of some of the key interventional robot platforms developed over the years and the irrelative merit and intrinsic limitations. The review also presents a future outlook for robotic interventions and emerging trends inmaking the measiertouse, lightweight, ergonomic, and intelligent, and thus smarter, safer, and more accessible for clinical use.
Jocelyne Troccaz, Giulio Dagnino and Guang-Zhong Yang, 2019, Frontiers of Medical Robotics: From Concept to Systems to Clinical Translation, 21:193–218, The Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering.
26th February 2019
Space fashion: Intelligent Space Wearables
Last Thursday, while people were celebrating London Fashion Week, our Hamlyn Centre research team participated in the “Imperial Lates: Smart Fashion” at Imperial College to showcase our latest space innovative wearables, such as AR/VR and eye tracking technology, that could be used to train astronauts or those working in extreme environments.
One of the space fashion highlights our FAIR-SPACE research team brought into the showcase was intelligent spacewalk glove. According to the research findings from our researchers, one of the issues with the current model of space glove is that the glove inflates and becomes very difficult to operate and move during a spacewalk. As inflated gloves create a lot of resistance, astronauts waste a lot of energy on just moving their fingers and may take hours to simply tighten a screw.
In order to solve this problem, our researchers have designed a glove that has sensors placed inside its fingers part with an exoskeleton to enhance dexterity. The sensors relay finger movement information to the exoskeleton that goes with the spacesuit, which in turn can provide help with the action that is being performed.
Moreover, our research team also improved the tactile senses of the wearer. The current version of space glove is very thick, making an astronaut’s sense of touch almost absent. The new version of the space glove has sensors on its exterior that relay touch information through small vibrations, providing a new feedback loop to the astronaut.
Earlier this year, in January 2019, our researchers held the 1st FAIR-SPACE Researchers Workshop at Imperial College London. At the event, researchers got together to share the latest progress of their research in the fields of ‘Sensing & Perception’, ‘Mobility & Mechanism’, ‘AI & Autonomy’, ‘Human-Robot Interaction’ and ‘System Engineering’, which are the five crosscutting research themes of FAIR-SPACE Hub. The Hamlyn Centre is one of FAIR-SPACE Hub's academic partners and our research team is leading the ‘Human-Robot Interaction’ theme.
The Future AI and Robotics for Space (FAIR-SPACE) Hub is a UK national centre of research excellence in space robotics and AI. The Hub was launched in November 2017, as part of the government’s £84m R&D funding on “robotics and AI for extreme environments” through the Industry Strategic Challenge Fund (ISCF).
In its initial 3-year programme, the Hub has secured a £6.9m research grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the UK Space Agency (UKSA), boosted by a further £7.5m match fund from the industrial sector and a £15m business development fund. The Hub aims to help advancing knowledge and technologies in orbital manipulation, extra-terrestrial vehicles, and robotic support for astronaut missions. In the longer term, the Hub will help to advance the field to a new era by achieving long-lived robotic operations in space.
Based on the first-year annual report, the Hub has engaged with over 30 businesses, visited over 25 schools/universities and inspired over 1200 students, published the UK-RAS space white paper and over 10 original research articles and developed software prototypes and hardware testbeds for orbital/surface scenarios, which will be leading facilities for use by both academia and industry.
The News released by Imperial College London: Smart fashion showcased at Imperial Lates
The News released by FAIR-SPACE Hub: IMPERIAL LATES: SMART FASHION
31st January 2019
Ten robotics technologies of the year
In the Editorial of the Science Robotics Journal published in January, our Hamlyn Centre director Professor Guang-Zhong Yang with other experts identified 10 exciting robotics developments and technologies that may change the future of robotics for commercial applications.
One of the notable technologies on the list is robotic surgery. Robotic surgery represents one of the most important surgical innovations in recent year. As procedures using a robotic approach, such as radical prostatectomy, are increasingly performed and provide many benefits, more robotic platforms are emerging and increased clinical uptake depends on whether issues such as cost effectiveness and barriers to wider clinical accessibility will be further addressed. In this article, the newly launched Da Vinci single-port system from Intuitive Surgical has been highlighted within the robotic surgery innovations. Through a single 2.5-cm cannula and small incision, this platform allows the surgeon to control three fully wristed, elbowed instruments, combined with an articulated endoscope for deep-seated lesions.
3D-printed liquid crystal elastomers for soft robotics is another development that is brought to attention. To explore new materials and fabrication schemes for developing power-efficient, multifunctional and compliant actuators has always been one of the grand challenges of robotics. The latest publication regarding the liquid crystal elastomeric actuators (LCEAs) shows how the elastomers can be fabricated with 3D printing using high operating temperature direct ink writing with spatially programmed nematic order. These actuators demonstrated the ability to lift significantly more weight than other liquid crystal elastomers reported to date. The technique promises large area designs and dynamic functional architectures for soft robots.
Guang-Zhong Yang, Robert J. Full, Neil Jacobstein, Peer Fischer, James Bellingham, Howie Choset, Henrik Christensen, Paolo Dario, Bradley J. Nelson and Russell Taylor, 2019, Vol. 4, Issue 26, Science Robotics Journal.
10th December 2018
Surgery is set to be transformed for millions of patients by a new wave of technologies
An independent commission has predicted that surgery is about to be transformed for millions of patients by a new wave of technologies – driven by changes in new technology, including robotics, and our understanding of human biology – which in some cases are only months away.
According to the report of the Commission on the Future of Surgery, patients can confidently expect surgery to become much less invasive and more personalised, with more predictable outcomes, faster recovery times and a lower risk of harm.
The report highlights four areas of technological development that are likely to have the greatest impact on how surgical care is delivered in the next two decades:
- Robot-assisted surgery and minimally-invasive surgery – meaning faster recovery times (including cardiovascular and gynaecological procedures)
- Imaging (including virtual, mixed and augmented reality) and patient-tailored implants from 3D printing
- Big data, genomics and artificial intelligence – meaning "precision" surgery, tailored to a patient's genes
- Specialised interventions like developments in transplants and stem-cell therapies - as well as 3D-bioprinting of tissues and organs and creating more advanced prostheses
Report co-author Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, the Director and Co-founder of the Hamlyn Centre for Robotic Surgery, pointed out that the role of medical robotics must be firmly established in clinical practices. “It is now important to drive the technologies, not only in terms of innovation, but also from the perspective of cost-effectiveness and general accessibility, such that the population at large can benefit from the technologies” he said.
Robotics and minimally-invasive surgery
Major developments in laparoscopic and endoscopic surgery will enable less invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. The next generation of surgical robots – expected to be launched in 2019 – will be more slender, versatile and affordable and can be moved between theatres or even hospitals. These attributes will improve the take-up of robot-assisted surgery, with the potential to reduce variation in outcomes, as well as make robot-assisted surgery more widely available in local hospitals and will narrow the gap in performance between surgeons.
Big data, genomics and artificial intelligence
Advances in big data, genomics and artificial intelligence will enable ‘precision surgery’ – where treatments can be tailored to patients according to their genetic profile. Genomics has the potential to revolutionise surgical care by making some types of surgery redundant and by allowing doctors to better understand cancerous tumours and target treatment accordingly.
Imaging, virtual, mixed and augmented reality
The report suggests that virtual, mixed and augmented reality platforms will allow surgical teams around the world to share advice during operations, and specialist surgeons to carry out or support complex procedures remotely. The Commission also highlights the advantages of 3D imaging to support planning of personalised surgical interventions and creating patient-tailored implants using 3D printing techniques.
The expert panel has also considered specialised interventions such as some stem-cell therapies, 3D-bioprinting of tissues and organs, developments in transplant and neural prosthetics with adaptive control mechanisms. In the long-term, there will be more complex and specialised interventions. The delivery of cell-based therapies, bio-printed tissues and organs, ‘intelligent’ prosthetics or animal to human transplants will require specialised teams working together in multidisciplinary centres.
“It is an incredibly exciting time to be part of the surgical team, as technology is going to enable us to do so much more to keep our patients healthy. Better diagnosis and a more detailed understanding of how illnesses develop, thanks to advances in genomics and genetic testing, will give us the tools to tackle disease at an earlier stage. We will be able to act early and tailor surgery to the needs of individual patients, and therefore likely operating on patients who are otherwise well” Mr Richard Kerr, Chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Commission on the Future of Surgery, said.
The press conference of the Commission on the Future of Surgery was held at the Hamlyn Centre on 6th December 2018.
Further details regarding the report can be found on the official website: https://futureofsurgery.rcseng.ac.uk
9th November 2018
New wireless device can aid recovery of breast cancer patients
A new sensing device can provide early warning of potential failure of breast reconstruction surgery, making it easier to take effective action.
An international team led by Imperial College London and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have developed the wireless ‘bio-patch’ as part of the Smart Sensing for Surgery project.
Incorporating electronics measuring just 1.8 x 1.1cm, the bio-patch was attached to patients for 48 hours following breast reconstruction surgery. It successfully performed continuous monitoring of the level of oxygen saturation in transferred tissue – a key indicator of whether there is a risk of reconstruction failure.
Early warning system
Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, Director of Imperial’s Hamlyn Centre, leads the Smart Sensing for Surgery project. He said: “Poor blood supply or failure of breast reconstruction surgery can have a major impact on a breast cancer patient’s recovery, prognosis and mental wellbeing. Clinical signs of failure often occur late and patients may be returned to the operating room on clinical suspicion.
“Our new bio-patch tackles this problem by providing objective data as an early warning system for medical staff, enabling earlier and simpler interventions, as well as giving patients increased peace of mind.”
Breast reconstruction surgery following a mastectomy routinely includes transfer of the patient’s own tissue to help rebuild the breast. This procedure achieves high success rates but early detection of possible problems could help to further reduce post-surgical complications and cut surgery failure rates.
Data capture and transmissions
Harnessing a technique known as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), the new device safely captures and transmits data using sensors sealed inside fully biocompatible materials. The data is encrypted to ensure security and privacy.
Early trials have opened up the prospect of the bio-patch becoming available for widespread clinical use within 2-3 years. The project team is currently exploring the scope to secure commercial or National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) support for the next stage of development and commercialisation.
The device is now being adapted to help monitor conditions such as dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Professor Yang added: “The Smart Sensing for Surgery project is an excellent example of how engineers and clinicians can come together to develop ‘smart’ solutions that have huge potential not just to enhance patient health and wellbeing but also to help reduce the burden on healthcare resources.”
Smart Sensing for Surgery has achieved other promising advances, including development of sensors that can be implanted just under the skin to provide continuous measurement of pulse rate, temperature and pH balance, and development of ‘smart’ catheters or drains enabling problems (e.g. relating to infection) to be spotted early on.
This EPSRC-funded project Smart Sensing for Surgery ran from June 2014 to October 2018 and received just over £3 million in EPSRC support.
For more information of the press release from EPSRC on 23rd October 2018
Reported by Imperial College London
Posted by the Hamlyn Centre
24th October 2018
Tomographic Probe for Perfusion Analysis in Deep Layer Tissue
Being able to monitor the perfusion of an organ at different depth is crucial to prevent tissue death or organ failure. In particular, buried fasciocutaneous tissue free ﬂap surgery is a common operation for tissue reconstruction. Flap failure, usually due to improper blood vessel anastomosis, is morbid and leads to additional surgery. Venous thrombosis is reported to be the most common cause of ﬂap failure for both superﬁcial and buried ﬂaps.
In general, ﬂap salvage rate following thrombosis is directly correlated to the time of ﬂap failure detection. Most of ﬂap failure happens within 24 to 48 hours post-surgery, with more cases happening within the 5 hours post-surgery. In the case of buried ﬂap, clinical assessment is not possible. In some cases, buried fasciocutaneous or myocutaneous ﬂaps can clinically be monitored by resurfacing or temporally externalising a segment of the ﬂap sharing the same pedicles. However, when it is not possible to implement these surgical methods, other approaches are needed to ensure early detection of ﬂap failure.
Continuous buried soft tissue free ﬂap postoperative monitoring is crucial to detect ﬂap failure and enable earlyintervention. In this case, clinical assessment is challenging as the ﬂap is buried and only implantable or hand held devices can be used for regular monitoring. These devices have limitations in their price, usability and speciﬁcity. Nearinfrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has shown promising results for superﬁcial free ﬂap postoperative monitoring, but it has not been considered for buried free ﬂap, mainly due to the limited penetration depth of conventional approaches.
A wearable wireless tomographic probe has been developed for continuous monitoring of tissue perfusion at different depths. Using the NIRS method, blood ﬂow can be continuously measured at different tissue depths. This device has been designed following conclusions of extensive computerised simulations and it has been validated using a vascular phantom.
Berthelot M, Yang GZ, Lo B, 2018, Tomographic probe for perfusion analysis in deep layer tissue, Pages: 86-89, 2018 IEEE 15th International Conference on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks (BSN).
2nd October 2018
Robotic Sewing and Knot Tying for Personalised Stent Graft Manufacturing
Vascular disease is a major contributor to cardiovascular deaths in the world. The incidence of abdominal aortic aneurysms increases signiﬁcantly with age-by over 300% for those at age 70 compared to those at age 50. Endovascular therapy avoids major trauma associated with an open operation, with clear advantages in terms of reduced morbidity and mortality, especially in patients unable to withstand traditional open surgery.
This procedure of endovascular intervention requires the use of personalised, custom-made stent grafts with bespoke openings (fenestrations) and branches, which could provide a better ﬁt for a patient’s anatomy. These personalised stent grafts are currently handmade by means of sewing thousands of stitches, which are expensive and time-consuming. The long delay in customised graft manufacturing can subject patients to the risk of aneurysm rupture and precludes treatment to patients with acute symptoms. The development of an automated stent graft sewing technique would be very helpful to increase the speed of personalised stent manufacturing.
This project presents a versatile robotic system for sewing 3D structured object, i.e. personalised stent grafts. With the use of a customised sewing device and closed-loop visual servoing control, an all-in-one solution for sewing personalised stent graft is demonstrated. Stitch size planning and automatic knot tying are proposed as the two key functions of the system. Using the stitch size planning method, sub-millimetre sewing accuracy is achieved for stitch sizes ranging from 2mm to 5mm.
In addition, a thread manipulator, with the capability of thread management and tension control is also proposed to perform successive knot tying to secure each stitch. Experiments are designed to test these two proposed methods. Their performance and further improvement are discussed. Besides industrial sewing, the system also shows the potential to be transferred to other clinical areas such as surgical suturing.
Yang Hu, Lin Zhang, Wei Li and Guang-Zhong Yang, 2018, Robotic Sewing and Knot Tying for Personalised Stent Graft Manufacturing.
This project is funded by EPSRC (EP/L020688/1).
15th August 2018
The i2Snake Robotic Platform for Endoscopic Surgery
Endoscopic procedures have transformed minimally invasive surgery as they allow the examination and intervention on a patient’s anatomy through natural orifices, without the need for external incisions. However, the complexity of anatomical pathways and the limited dexterity of existing instruments, limit such procedures mainly to diagnosis and biopsies.
This paper proposes a new robotic platform: the Intuitive imaging sensing navigated and kinematically enhanced (i2Snake) robot that aims to improve the field of endoscopic surgery. The proposed robotic platform includes a snake-like robotic endoscope equipped with a camera, a light-source and two robotic instruments, supported with a robotic arm for global positioning and for insertion of the i2Snake, and a master interface for master–slave teleoperation. The proposed robotic platform design focuses on ergonomics and intuitive control. The control workflow was first validated in simulation and then implemented on the robotic platform.
The results are consistent with the simulation and show the clear clinical potential of the system. Limitations such as tendon backlash and elongation over time will be further investigated by means of combined hardware and software solutions. In conclusion, the proposed system contributes to the field of endoscopic surgical robots and could allow to perform more complex endoscopic surgical procedures while reducing patient trauma and recovery time.
Berthet-Rayne P, Gras G, Leibrandt K, et al., 2018, The i2Snake Robotic Platform for Endoscopic Surgery., Ann Biomed Eng
20th November 2017
- Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) is a disease of the small intestine affecting children and adults in low and middle income countries. Arising as a consequence of repeated infections, gut inflammation results in impaired intestinal absorptive and barrier function, leading to poor nutrient uptake and ultimately to stunting and other developmental limitations. Progress towards new biomarkers and interventions for EED is hampered by the practical and ethical difficulties of cross-validation with the gold standard of biopsy and histology.
Optical biopsy techniques — which can provide minimally invasive or noninvasive alternatives to biopsy — could offer other routes to validation and could potentially be used as point-of-care tests among the general population. This Consensus Statement identifies and reviews the most promising candidate optical biopsy technologies for applications in EED, critically assesses them against criteria identified for successful deployment in developing world settings, and proposes further lines of enquiry. Importantly, many of the techniques discussed could also be adapted to monitor the impaired intestinal barrier in other settings such as IBD, autoimmune enteropathies, coeliac disease, graft-versus-host disease, small intestinal transplantation or critical care.
15th November 2017
Original Article | 15th November 2017
A new report produced by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in collaboration with the Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London, highlights new technologies to improve patient lives, from diagnosis, treatment, to rehabilitation.
The report, Implantable and Wearable Medical Devices for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, highlights the potential for portable devices, smart textiles (where vests or t-shirt have circuits and sensors weaved into the fabric) and implantable endobronchial valves and coils (a small device implanted in the airway) to improve the quality of life for patients with COPD.
Dedicated wearable devices for monitoring COPD could see patients treated earlier at home, reducing the decline in their lung function, and cutting the cost of hospital stays.
25th September 2017
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam used her first official visit to the UK to see Imperial's technological lead in medical robotics.
Original Article by Andrew Scheuber
The head of Hong Kong’s government toured Imperial’s Hamlyn Centre, seeing how the College’s researchers are collaborating worldwide, including with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, to pioneer new robotic surgery technologies.
She met with Imperial’s President Alice Gast, Provost James Stirling and Chair of Council Sir Philip Dilley, and the visit was led by Hamlyn Centre Director Professor Guang-Zhong Yang.
Professor Yang, Professor Gast and colleagues showed Mrs Lam how Imperial is at the leading edge of engineering, design and medical technology innovation.
The right place for collaboration
The chief executive spoke about Hong Kong’s “big push on science and technology” and its commitment to “international collaboration” with colleagues “in universities all over the world,” including Imperial.
Mrs Lam was “pleased to see Hong Kong technology being used in such advanced equipment” at the Hamlyn Centre.
10th April 2017
A confocal laser endomicroscopy image of freshly excised human breast tissue from our PhD student, Khushi Vyas, won the People's Choice Award at this year's Art of Research Competition. The Art of Research is a competition that allows scientists at Imperial to showcase their work from a more artistic perspective.
Khushi's work mainly focuses on developing novel high-resolution in vivo optical imaging techniques, particularly endomicroscopy, for image guided interventions and cancer detection during minimally invasive surgical procedures. Her submission is an image taken in real-time that depicts normal adipose tissue, which appears as hexagons with hyper-flourescent borders, and sparsely populated nulcei as bright spots.
The ability to achieve real-time image guidance is highly desirable in the operating room for cancer intervention as it could help ensure that all cancerous tissue is successfully removed on the first attempt. Confocal microscopy is a technique that is used to improve the resolution and contrast of the image by only capturing the in-focus plane of the image, whereas in conventional microscopy, the image would include both in-focus and out-of-focus light; the imaging technique is particularly important for use in vivo as conventional widefield microscopy is unsuited for imaging thick tissue.
20th February 2017
The Hamlyn Centre had the honour to receive a funding from the EPRSC to achieve our goal of excellence in two different axes. The first axe is the consolidation of our robotic control capabilities and the development of our micro-robotic fabrication platform. The second axe is an update of our clinical diagnostic imaging equipment and characterisation equipment to allow for a better understanding of our processes.
We present here a list of the new equipment that has been acquired.
- Force dimension Sigma 7 haptic device and Omega 7
Robotic systems developed for surgery must allow for intuitive and precise control, while also providing accurate and reliable force feedback. The latest generation of master interfaces offer 7 degrees of freedom haptic feedback in position, orientation and grasping. These high grade controllers allow better force rendering and offer great potential for future surgical robotics.
- Micro-Robot and Sensing fabrication lab
To deal with micro-robotics and sensing with micro- or nano-scale devices, specific equipment is required to allow for the highest possible standard in terms of purity, homogeneity and control of environmental parameters. This set of tools has been selected to provide us with the possibility to extend our control to another scale.
- Nanoscribe system upgrade
The Nanoscribe system is an integral part of our current research in the development of micrometre-scale surgical tools and for the development of novel materials to create these tools. The Nanoscribe can also be used to create custom 3D printed optical components. This system upgrade expand our current system's capabilities to print larger-scale structures (10s of microns to 10s of millimetres) and 2.5D structures.
- Metal and Polymer Thin Film Deposition system
Our project of micro-robotics and new sensor development neede upgraded fabrication equipment. Thin film deposition can be achieved using several techniques depending on the material and the quality required. This deposition device allows for easy, quick and versatile deposition using E-beam, sputtering or thermal evaporation in a completely modular manner. This provide our laboratory with rapid prototyping capabilities for a large variety of new micro-robotic systems.
- Metal and Polymer Thin Film Deposition system
Our project of micro-robotics and new sensor development neede upgraded fabrication equipment. Thin film deposition can be achieved using several techniques depending on the material and the quality required. This deposition device allows for easy, quick and versatile deposition using E-beam, sputtering or thermal evaporation in a completely modular manner. This provide our laboratory with rapid prototyping capabilities for a large variety of new micro-robotic systems.
- Olympus Stereo Endoscope
The innovative development of new robots for surgery can only be accomplished if coupled with the best state-of-the-art visualisation systems. This flexible endoscope provide full 3D HD visualisation with the highest speed, accuracy and precision on the market. The additional flexibility offered by this system open the door to deeper and less invasive robot assisted surgical procedures.
- Multi-channel Potentiostat
Electrochemical sensors offer a large selection of applications in live (and post) surgical monitoring. Undertaking parallel measurements with a large number of those devices allow for the multiplexed study of complex systems and targeted detection of specific biomarkers. In the first instance, studies of this sort require a multi-channel potentiostat for sensor readout.
- Raman Hand Held Spectrometer
One of the major challenges of the future of medical sensing is to bring the laboratory to the patients. This portable Raman spectrometer can be easily transported to different laboratories for on-site characterisation and testing. This allow for the characterisation of both the materials used in our micro-sensors and bacterial samples. As such, this system provide vital characterisation capabilities and also act as a step towards in situ Raman spectroscopy for the clinical detection of infection.
- Impedance Analyser 120MHz
Impedance analysers are necessary in characterising the electrical properties of materials across a bandwidth of interest. This is important for the development of novel materials (such as various conducting polymers), electronic devices (e.g. resistors, capacitors, inductors) and sensors. Tissue bio-impedance sensors, capacitive sensors, electrodes for neural prostheses, and electrochemical sensors all require their impedance properties to be known. The impedance analyser allow these measurements to be made and, importantly, such measurements is necessary in the development of not only implantable and wearable sensors but also micro-robotics.
- Semiconductor Characterisation System
The development of novel electronic devices and materials requires the characterisation of the static electrical properties of the devices under various biasing conditions. This semiconductor characterisation systems employ a number (4) of source meter units (SMUs) to allow characteristic V-I curves to be obtained of 2, 3 and 4 terminal devices as well as a C-V unit for accurate capacitance and inductance measurements. Such a system is essential for the characterisation of novel sensors and devices for implantable, wearable and micro-robotic applications.
- Electroencephalography device
Our robotic lab has been equipped with a new EEG (Electroencephalography) device for non-invasive monitoring of the electrical activity of the brain, widening our capacity to investigate new pathways to enrich human–machine interaction.
5th February 2017
Lord Prior met Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial, and Professor Lord Ara Darzi, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at the College, at the Hamlyn Centre.
The Minister at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy came to the College on one his first visits as part of the Government’s consultation process on the Industrial Strategy Green paper, which was unveiled by Theresa May, UK Prime Minister, on 23 January 2017.
The green paper aims to build on our strengths and make the UK one of the most competitive places in the world to start and grow a business.
As part of the ten point plan outlined in the green paper, the Government announced that it was focussing on ‘investing in science, research and innovation’. Lord Prior’s visit to Imperial was to see first-hand the types of technologies and innovations that will drive UK excellence into the future.
24th January 2017
11 papers from The Hamlyn Centre have been accepted for publication at this year's IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2017)! We look forward to presenting our work to you in May! The publications to appear at ICRA 2017 are as follows:
- "Implicit Gaze-Assisted Adaptive Motion Scaling for Highly Articulated Instrument Manipulation"
Gauthier Gras, Konrad Leibrandt, Piyamate Wisanuvej, Petros Giataganas, Carlo Alberto Seneci, Menglong Ye, Jianzhong Shang, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "A Learning Based Training and Skill Assessment Platform with Haptic Guidance for Endovascular Catheterization"
Wenqiang Chi, Hedyeh Rafii-Tari, Christopher James Payne, Jindong Liu, Colin Bicknell, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Autonomous Scanning for Endomicroscopic Mosaicing and 3D Fusion"
Lin Zhang, Menglong Ye, Petros Giataganas, Michael Hughes, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Hybrid microrobots using pH- and photo-responsive hydrogels for cancer targeting and drug delivery"
Maura Power, Salzitsa Anastasova, Suzanne Shanel, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Three-Dimensional Robotic-assisted Endomicroscopy with a Force Adaptive Robotic Arm"
Piyamate Wisanuvej, Petros Giataganas, Konrad Leibrandt, Jindong Liu, Michael Hughes, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "A Framework for Sensorless and Autonomous Probe-Tissue Contact Management in Robotic Endomicroscopic Scanning"
Rejin John Varghese, Pierre Berthet-Rayne, Petros Giataganas, Valentina Vitiello, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "A Single-Port Robotic System for Transanal Micro-Surgery - Design and Validation"
Jianzhong Shang, Valentina Vitiello, Konrad Leibrandt, Carlo Alberto Seneci, Piyamate Wisanuvej, Jindong Liu, Petros Giataganas, Gauthier Gras, James Clark, Ara Darzi, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Gaze Contingent Control for Optical Micromanipulation"
Maria Grammatikopoulou, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Effective Manipulation in Tight Spaces of Highly Articulated Robotic Instruments for Single Access Surgery"
Konrad Leibrandt, Piyamate Wisanuvej, Gauthier Gras, Jianzhong Shang, Carlo Alberto Seneci, Valentina Vitiello, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "Efficient Proximity Queries for Continuum Robots on Parallel Computing Hardware"
Konrad Leibrandt, and Guang-Zhong Yang
- "A Balloon Endomicroscopy Scanning Device for Diagnosing Barrett’s Oesophagus"
Siyang Zuo, Michael Hughes, and Guang-Zhong Yang
27th May 2016
Well done to Dr Mohan Singh and Dr Kim Honselmann for winning the 2016 Residents & Fellows Research Conference award at the 57th annual meeting of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract held in San Diego, USA!
Mohan obtained this prestigious award for his work on the application of gold nanorods in both early and late stage cancers entitled, "Application of Gold Nanrods in Cancer Theranostics".
An excerpt from his work:
"Gold nanoparticles can be utilised as photothermal therapeutic agents because of their strongly enhanced absorption of the near infrared light (NIR) region resulting in hyperthermia induced by their surface plasmon resonance. We investigate the fluorescence-guided photothermal effect from gold nanorods (GNRs) in the diagnostics and therapy (theranostics) of in vivo upper gastrointestinal adenocarcinoma.
This study examines the theranostic potential of GNRs on adenocarcinoma in vivo, which has a place in both early and late stage cancers. Fluorescence imaging of GNRs that localise to cancerous tissue enhances cancer diagnosis. When coupled with a single short delivery of NIR light, this minimally invasive and clinically translatable technique can safely and effectively produce irreversible tumour photodestruction. Providing an alternative means of cancer theranostics that is cheap, rapid and effective can instigate significant improvements in prognosis, treatment and quality of life."
9th May 2016
Inquisitive minds of all ages flocked to Imperial College London's South Kensington campus on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May for this year's Imperial Festival to find out more about our research! The event also coincided with the Alumni Weekend, which gave past students and staff a great opportunity to catch up with the latest developments at Imperial. The imaging, robotics, and sensing teams from the Hamlyn Centre had all prepared interactive demonstrations to showcase their work.
In the Research Zone on Queen's Lawn, our imaging team were there to present "navigating the heart". They, quite literally, wore hearts on their wrists to explain the different parts of their research, from explaining the basic anatomy of the heart, to the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for cardiac imaging, tracking the position of surgical instruments, and augmenting the capabilities of those tools through software. Visitors also had the chance to try and navigate around our 3D heart themselves!
In the Great Hall, our robotics and sensing teams joined forces to show the public how an idea, sketched on paper, can be brought to life through 3D modelling, artificial intelligence, and wearable sensors. In the hands-on sessions, participants designed racetracks, cars, gardens, and bugs; participants were then able to enter their completed 3D creations into the School Robotics Challenge or Autonomous Driving Challenge, which form part of next month's UK Robotics Week.
The UK's first Robotics Week will be taking place from Saturday, 25th June to Friday, 1st July. A series of events and competitions have been organised across the UK to showcase the latest innovations and also to engage with people of all ages and backgrounds.
4th May 2016
Students from the Hamlyn Centre were out in force at the Postgraduate Ceremony as they celebrated their academic achievements with family, friends, and colleagues. Well done and all the best for the future to all graduands!
If you are interested in starting a career in research, visit our MRes and PhD programmes page for more information.
25th April 2016
Objective metrics of technical performance (e.g., dexterity, time, and path length) are insufficient to fully characterize operator skill level, which may be encoded deep within neural function. Unlike reports that capture plasticity across days or weeks, this articles studies long-term plasticity in functional connectivity that occurs over years of professional task practice. Optical neuroimaging data are acquired from professional surgeons of varying experience on a complex bimanual coordination task with the aim of investigating learning-related disparity in frontal lobe functional connectivity that arises as a consequence of motor skill level. The results suggest that prefrontal and premotor seed connectivity is more critical during naïve versus expert performance. Given learning-related differences in connectivity, a least-squares support vector machine with a radial basis function kernel is employed to evaluate skill level using connectivity data. The results demonstrate discrimination of operator skill level with accuracy ≥0.82 and Multiclass Matthew's Correlation Coefficient ≥0.70. Furthermore, these indices are improved when local (i.e., within-region) rather than inter-regional (i.e., between-region) frontal connectivity is considered (p = 0.002). The results suggest that it is possible to classify operator skill level with good accuracy from functional connectivity data, upon which objective assessment and neurofeedback may be used to improve operator performance during technical skill training.
This work was developed as a collaborative research study between scientists at the Hamlyn Centre and surgeons, Dr. Kunal Shetty and Dr. Daniel Leff. Leading this multidisciplinary research was Prof. Guang-Zhong Yang.
 Andreu-Perez Javier, Leff Daniel Richard, Shetty Kunal, Darzi Ara, and Yang Guang-Zhong, "Disparity in Frontal Lobe Connectivity on a Complex Bimanual Motor Task Aids in Classification of Operator Skill Level," Brain Connectivity. April 2016, ahead of print. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/brain.2015.0350.
15th April 2016
To examine abnormalities in the gastrointestinal tract (GI), which may be attributed to diseases such as Barrett’s esophagus and colorectal cancer, tissue biopsies are usually taken during endoscopy to provide a definitive pathological diagnosis of the tissue sample. Recent techonological advances in biophotonics have enabled the development of non-invasive diagnosis methods, such as optical biopsy. The advantage of optical biopsy techniques is the ability to perform tissue characterisation in real-time in vivo and in situ, as it avoids the need to extract tissue for offline histological analysis. However, consistent retargeting of previously visited biopsy sites in GI examinations is challenging, especially for optical biospy as the non-invasive technique does not leave any marks on the tissue.
To address the challenges, Ye et al  introduces, "Online tracking and retargeting with applications to optical biopsy in gastrointestinal endoscopic examinations". Based on the concept of tracking-by-detection, an online detection cascade is proposed which can be integrated with other temporal tracking methods, and a RANSAC-based location verification component is proposed for robust retargeting. Detailed in vivo validation of the proposed method demonstrates that optical biopsy sites can be robustly retargeted and that the method outperforms the existing state-of-the-art.
 Menglong Ye, Stamatia Giannarou, Alexander Meining, Guang-Zhong Yang, "Online tracking and retargeting with applications to optical biopsy in gastrointestinal endoscopic examinations, Medical Image Analysis," Volume 30, May 2016, Pages 144-157, ISSN 1361-8415, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.media.2015.10.003.
9th March 2016
A new way to test for tuberculosis from final year Imperial medical PhD student, Harriet Gliddon, claimed the top prize in this year's Institute of Global Health Innovation's Student Challenges Competition. The runner-up prize was claimed by James McIllory, a medical student at the University of Aberdeen, and the Audience Choice Award went to Antonios Chronopoulos and Tyler Lieberthal.
The student challenges competition provides a platform for UK-based students to showcase their global health research ideas and secure funding to develop it to the next stage. The IGHI hosts the Dragon’s Den style event each year, which is open to all undergraduate or postgraduate students in the UK, welcomes ideas that cover any aspect of global health. For example:
- Aiding patients with physical disabilities in the developing world;
- Improving sanitation and hygiene;
- Tackling chronic diseases;
- Finding new diagnostics for infectious diseases in remote areas;
- Enhancing and reshaping global health policy and processes
The 2016/17 Competition will open for entries again in Winter 2016.