HSMR21 Featured Speaker Professor Alex Golby

The Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics (HSMR) is now in its 13th year and has provided an annual forum for surgeons and engineers from across the globe to network and explore the latest developments in medical robotics. Every year researchers, clinicians and engineers are invited to submit papers on a range of topics covering clinical specialities in Urology, Cardiac Surgery, Neuro Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, General Surgery, Gynaecology, ENT, Orthopaedic and Paediatric Surgery.

This year we plan to build beyond the previous achievements and take the symposium to even higher successes with the theme of Surgery and Beyond’. We have already received full CPD accreditation from the Royal College of Surgeons and to complement this we are planning a programme with increased focus on clinical practitioner centered talks, workshops and presentations.

Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2021:

Featured Speaker Professor Alex Golby
Creating road maps for minimally invasive interventions in the brain


Professor Alex GolbyWe are pleased to announce Professor Alex Golby is one of the featured speakers of the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics 2021 (#HSMR21).

Professor Golby will give a talk on ‘Creating road maps for minimally invasive interventions in the brain’ followed by a Q&A session.


Performing safe and effective intracranial neurosurgery is predicated on understanding individual functional anatomy in order to avoid damage to critical brain areas and attendant neurological deficits. Historically, decisions about eloquent brain structure were made on the basis of general neuroanatomic understanding or invasive mapping such as the Wada test and electrical stimulation mapping either intraoperatively or with surgically implanted electrodes.

Such mapping has been very useful in demonstrating the variability of individual functional anatomy both inherent among individuals and also due to lesion induced reorganization. Over the last several decades, numerous non-invasive brain mapping methods have been developed including functional MRI of the cortex and white matter mapping with diffusion MRI tractography. Other approaches include magnetoencephalopathy and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

These methods maybe used to obviate the need for invasive mapping or may help limit the scope of invasive mapping for patients undergoing traditional neurosurgical approaches. However, with the advent of increasing minimally-invasive or non-invasive interventions, the importance of non-invasive individual subject mapping will continue to increase.

For patients undergoing interventions such as laser interstitial therapy thermal therapy, Focused ultrasound, robotically-guided or other emerging interventions, the ability to obtain a non-invasive individual map of functional anatomy will be critical for the optimal deployment of these technologies. Individual functional maps can be obtained in advance of the procedure and integrated with procedural planning and guidance systems to create a virtual roadmap allowing the surgeon to plan the most effective and safest approach to accomplish the therapeutic goals.


My research focuses on the translation of a broad range of neuroimaging techniques to neurosurgical planning and intraoperative guidance. The overarching goal of this work is to help surgeons perform optimal brain surgery by defining and visualizing critical brain structures and pathologic tissue to be removed.

Since 1998, I have worked on the development and validation of fMRI for the pre-operative evaluation of patients with lesions in and near critical areas of the brain. This has been a translational research effort which adapted fMRI, initially developed as a neuroscience technique to be applied in groups of subjects to make statistical inferences about populations, to the vastly different scenario of clinical decision-making for individual patients. Since our research program began at BWH in 2003, we have developed new techniques for the use of fMRI in single subject analyses necessary for surgical planning. In addition, we have developed numerous acquisition strategies geared towards accommodating the limited neurologic functions of some patients as well as analytic approaches to maximize the utility of fMRI for surgical planning. Presurgical fMRI has the potential to bring meaningful pre-operative individualized functional anatomy mapping to neurosurgeons around the world as an alternative to awake mapping, a technique which is demanding and remains limited to very specialized centers.

I have also worked extensively on the translation of diffusion MRI (dMRI) including tensor imaging (DTI) to map white matter anatomy in neurosurgical patients. Diffusion MRI allows the in vivo depiction of the location, course and integrity of macroscopic white matter tracts in the brain through a process known as tractography. As with fMRI, the translation of this technology to clinical decision-making has required numerous fundamentally novel approaches. We have developed segmentation approaches for defining tracts based on high dimensional clustering as well as statistical atlases which allow labeling of individual patient tracts even in the setting of mass effect and peritumoral edema. My group works collaboratively with MRI physics and MRI analysis groups to continue to be at the forefront of technical innovation. We have released many of our tools to the public via 3D Slicer (slicer.org) and we have organized several international challenge workshops to apply diffusion techniques to real world clinical data.

With both these methods, translation of the technology required understanding of clinical needs, constraints, and opportunities for improved clinical care. Specific analysis techniques needed to be developed to adopt these techniques so that they were applicable to single subject data, and, in particular, to neurologic patients who have structural lesions and often are limited by their neurological deficits. In these efforts, we work closely and collaboratively with scientists in radiology and computer science to translate emerging technical innovations into the operating room.

Another major area of translational investigation is in the development of intraoperative imaging techniques. I was the lead surgeon in developing the AMIGO (Advanced Multi-modality Image-Guided Operating Suite) at BWH and serve as the Co-director of AMIGO. AMIGO is one of the key resources of the National Center for Image Guided Therapy funded by NIH. This suite contains all contemporary imaging methods within an operating room environment and was specifically designed to support translational research. The suite is the site of many of surgical procedures in which we are developing strategies for intraoperative imaging and guidance.

Several of our important research efforts are built on the AMIGO platform. These include the intra-operative use of high field MRI including development of intra-operative dMRI tractography. We have also leveraged the resources of the AMIGO suite to develop novel strategies to simplify intraoperative imaging using techniques such as ultrasound and stereovision to give surgeons information in near real time to guide surgery. Another area of research leveraging the resources of AMIGO is the development of tissue level molecular imaging.We have funded collaborative projects using mass spectrometry, Raman spectroscopy, and fluorescence imaging.Our eventual goal is to give surgeons in most settings tools that will help them to perform safer and more effective surgery.

The research and methodological focuses are surgical workflow analysis, soft-tissue navigation and intraoperative visualization as well as surgical training and surgical data science. These methods allow for the first time a context-aware assistance in the OR of the future, which acts as an automatic information filter, avoids information overflow, adapts to the current needs of the surgeon and therefore provides the right information at the right time. In order to achieve this goal the close collaboration with interdisciplinary partners, in particular physicians, is necessary. Overall such systems have the potential to improve patient outcome and open up new possibilities to operate.

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