HSMR21 Workshop- 'Real-Time MRI Guided Robot for Precise Brachyherapy and Diagnosis of Localised Soft Tumours'

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: Workshop

HSMR21 Workshop- 'Real-Time MRI Guided Robot for Precise Brachytherapy and Diagnosis of Localised Soft Tumours'
Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer in Europe ( both  sex, all age) and the first most common cancer in males.


Prostate tumor treatment is mainly performed either by ablative surgery or external radiotherapy with good efficacy but also with heavy side effects (urinary and sexual dysfunctions). Brachytherapy is a better tolerated and very efficient technique for localized tumors, aiming to irradiate a smaller target volume by placing radioactive seeds or source in direct or close contact with the tumoral tissues. However, its efficacy is highly related to the training and skills of the practitioners and can rise fears regarding the handling of radioactive sources.

The objectives of the Cooperative Brachytherapy (CoBra) project are to improve the quality of both diagnosis and brachytherapy treatment of localized tumors with a first focus on prostate tumor, by developing a new automated solution combining either a steerable needle system or an automatic biopsy module integrated within a MRI compatible guide robot. This CoBra Robot will allow Real-Time MRI guided biopsy or seed implantation and radiation dose calculation. This technology will greatly improve accuracy of both cancer diagnosis and treatment, and increase treated volume, improving it efficacy and patient cure rates while minimizing side effects and improving the patient quality of life. Started in 2018, The CoBra project has reached now the prototype stage with first tests on animal patient planned in October 2021.

The cobra project is funded by the Interreg 2 seas European funding program and involve engineering, mathematics, and automatization researchers from University of Lille (Fr), University of Portsmouth (UK) and University of Delft (NL), radiotherapists and medical physicists from the Portsmouth University Hospital (UK) and Lille Oscar Lambret Cancer Centre (Fr), DEMCON engineering company (NL), SATT Nord Ouest technology valorization society and Eurasanté Health business development agency (Fr).

Key learning outcomes


  • An understanding of the current clinical techniques used in prostate biopsy and brachytherapy, their limitations and how the cobra project is addressing these
  • Understanding the motivations for a BIP design, its principles of actuation and manufacture, and its current and potential applications
  • Introduction to the new method improving the quality of both diagnosis and treatment of localized cancers, by developing a new medical robot prototype
  • Understanding the specifics of creation of MR-compatible Biopsy Module
  • Understanding the specifics of the Steerable Needle Design for LDR brachytherapy in MR-environment.



The CoBra project: An introduction and clinical perspective
Dr Sarah Wilby, Portsmouth Hospital University, Portsmouth, UK

Novel Steerable Needle Design for LDR Brachytherapy
Dr John Van den Dobbelsteen, Delft Technology University, Delft, NL

Real time Calculation of Steerable needle trajectory for optimized Brachytherapy seeds deposition
Professor Ashraf Labib, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Biopsy Module – Localized cancers diagnosis as part of integrated CoBra robotic solution
Mr Pieter Wiskerke, DEMCON Mechatronics, Delft, NL

Integrated CoBra Robotic Solution for Treatment and Diagnosis of Localized Cancers
Professor Rochdi Merzouki, Cristal Laboratory, University of Lille, Lille, Fr

Bio-Inspired, Simulation-Coupled, Active Prostate Phantom for Adaptive Interventions Under MRI
Mr Mario San Lopez, University of Lille, Lille, Fr

  • University of Lille
  • Portsmouth University Hospital (Portsmouth, UK)
  • University of Portsmouth (UK)
  • Oscar Lambret Cancer Centre (Lille, France)
  • Delft University (Delft, NL)
  • DEMCON Avanced Mechatronics West B.V. (Delft, NL)
  • Eurasanté Health Business development agency (Lille, Fr)

This workshop is worth 1.5 CPD point, please register to qualify for certification.

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