Research in surgical robotics has an established track record at Imperial College, and a number of research and commercial surgical robot platforms have been developed over the years. The Hamlyn Centre is a champion for technological innovation and clinical adoption of robotic, minimally invasive surgery. We work in partnership with major industrial leaders in medical devices and surgical robots, as well as developing our own platforms such as the i-Snake® and Micro-IGES platforms. The Da Vinci surgical robot is used extensively for endoscopic radical prostatectomy, hiatal hernia surgery, and low pelvic and rectal surgery, and in 2003, St Mary’s Hospital carried out its first Totally Endoscopic Robotic Coronary Artery Bypass (TECAB).

The major focus of the Hamlyn Centre is to develop robotic technologies that will transform conventional minimally invasive surgery, explore new ways of empowering robots with human intelligence, and develop[ing miniature 'microbots' with integrated sensing and imaging for targeted therapy and treatment. We work closely with both industrial and academic partners in open platforms such as the DVRK, RAVEN and KUKA. The Centre also has the important mission of driving down costs associated with robotic surgery in order to make the technology more accessible, portable, and affordable. This will allow it to be fully integrated with normal surgical workflows so as to benefit a much wider patient population.

The Hamlyn Centre currently chairs the UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network. The mission of the Network is to to provide academic leadership in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), expand collaboration with industry and integrate and coordinate activities across the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded RAS capital facilities and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs).


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  • Journal article
    Huang B, Tsai Y-Y, Cartucho J, Vyas K, Tuch D, Giannarou S, Elson DSet al., 2020,

    Tracking and visualization of the sensing area for a tethered laparoscopic gamma probe

    , International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery, Vol: 15, Pages: 1389-1397, ISSN: 1861-6410

    PurposeIn surgical oncology, complete cancer resection and lymph node identification are challenging due to the lack of reliable intraoperative visualization. Recently, endoscopic radio-guided cancer resection has been introduced where a novel tethered laparoscopic gamma detector can be used to determine the location of tracer activity, which can complement preoperative nuclear imaging data and endoscopic imaging. However, these probes do not clearly indicate where on the tissue surface the activity originates, making localization of pathological sites difficult and increasing the mental workload of the surgeons. Therefore, a robust real-time gamma probe tracking system integrated with augmented reality is proposed.MethodsA dual-pattern marker has been attached to the gamma probe, which combines chessboard vertices and circular dots for higher detection accuracy. Both patterns are detected simultaneously based on blob detection and the pixel intensity-based vertices detector and used to estimate the pose of the probe. Temporal information is incorporated into the framework to reduce tracking failure. Furthermore, we utilized the 3D point cloud generated from structure from motion to find the intersection between the probe axis and the tissue surface. When presented as an augmented image, this can provide visual feedback to the surgeons.ResultsThe method has been validated with ground truth probe pose data generated using the OptiTrack system. When detecting the orientation of the pose using circular dots and chessboard dots alone, the mean error obtained is 0.05∘and 0.06∘, respectively. As for the translation, the mean error for each pattern is 1.78 mm and 1.81 mm. The detection limits for pitch, roll and yaw are 360∘,360∘ and 8∘–82∘∪188∘–352∘.ConclusionThe performance evaluation results show that this dual-pattern marker can provide high detection rates, as well as more accurate pose estimation and a larger workspace than the previously proposed hyb

  • Journal article
    Zhang D, Wu Z, Chen J, Gao A, Chen X, Li P, Wang Z, Yang G, Lo B, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Automatic Microsurgical Skill Assessment Based on Cross-Domain Transfer Learning

    , IEEE ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION LETTERS, Vol: 5, Pages: 4148-4155, ISSN: 2377-3766
  • Journal article
    Barbot A, Power M, Seichepine F, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Liquid seal for compact micro-piston actuation at capillary tip

    , Science Advances, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2375-2548

    Actuators at the tip of a sub-millimetric catheter could facilitatein vivointer-ventional procedures at cellular scales by enabling tissue biopsy, manipulationor supporting active micro-optics. However the dominance of frictional forcesat this scale makes classical mechanism problematic. In this paper, we reportthe design of a micro-scale piston, with a maximum dimension of 150μm,fabricated with two-photon lithography onto the tip of 140μm diameter cap-illaries. An oil drop method is used to create a seal between the piston andthe cylinder which prevents any leakage below 185 mbar pressure differencewhile providing lubricated friction between moving parts. This piston gener-ates forces that increase linearly with pressure up to 130μN without breakingthe liquid seal. The practical value of the design is demonstrated with its inte-gration with a micro-gripper that can grasp, move and release 50μm micro-spheres. Such a mechanism opens the way to micron-size catheter actuation.

  • Journal article
    Giannarou S, Hacihaliloglu I, 2020,

    IJCARS - IPCAI 2020 special issue: 11th conference on information processing for computer-assisted interventions - part 1

    , International Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery, Vol: 15, Pages: 737-738, ISSN: 1861-6410
  • Journal article
    Kim JA, Wales D, Thompson A, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Fiber-optic SERS probes fabricated using two-photon polymerization for rapid detection of bacteria

    , Advanced Optical Materials, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 2195-1071

    This study presents a novel fiber-optic surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) probe (SERS-on-a-tip) fabricated using a simple, two-step protocol based on off-the-shelf components and materials, with a high degree of controllability and repeatability. Two-photon polymerization and subsequent metallization was adopted to fabricate a range of SERS arrays on both planar substrates and end-facets of optical fibers. For the SERS-on-a-tip probes, a limit of detection of 10-7 M (Rhodamine 6G) and analytical enhancement factors of up to 1300 were obtained by optimizing the design, geometry and alignment of the SERS arrays on the tip of the optical fiber. Furthermore, strong repeatability and consistency were achieved for the fabricated SERS arrays, demonstrating that the technique may be suitable for large-scale fabrication procedures in the future. Finally, rapid SERS detection of live Escherichia coli cells was demonstrated using integration times in the milliseconds to seconds range. This result indicates strong potential for in vivo diagnostic use, particularly for detection of infections. Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, this represents the first report of detection of live, unlabeled bacteria using a fiber-optic SERS probe.

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