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
    Gao A, Liu N, Shen M, Abdelaziz MEMK, Temelkuran B, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Laser-profiled continuum robot with integrated tension sensing for simultaneous shape and tip force estimation

    , Soft Robotics, Vol: 7, Pages: 421-443, ISSN: 2169-5172

    The development of miniaturized continuum robots has a wide range of applications in minimally invasive endoluminal interventions. To navigate inside tortuous lumens without impinging on the vessel wall and causing tissue damage or the risk of perforation, it is necessary to have simultaneous shape sensing of the continuum robot and its tip contact force sensing with the surrounding environment. Miniaturization and size constraint of the device have precluded the use of conventional sensing hardware and embodiment schemes. In this study, we propose the use of optical fibers for both actuation and tension/shape/force sensing. It uses a model-based method with structural compensation, allowing direct measurement of the cable tension near the base of the manipulator without increasing the dimensions. It further structurally filters out disturbances from the flexible shaft. In addition, a model is built by considering segment differences, cable interactions/cross talks, and external forces. The proposed model-based method can simultaneously estimate the shape of the manipulator and external force applied onto the robot tip. Detailed modeling and validation results demonstrate the accuracy and reliability of the proposed method for the miniaturized continuum robot for endoluminal intervention.

  • Journal article
    Keshavarz M, Wales DJ, Seichepine F, Abdelaziz MEMK, Kassanos P, Li Q, Temelkuran B, Shen H, Yang G-Zet al., 2020,

    Induced neural stem cell differentiation on a drawn fiber scaffold-toward peripheral nerve regeneration

    , Biomedical Materials, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1748-6041

    To achieve regeneration of long sections of damaged nerves, restoration methods such as direct suturing or autologous grafting can be inefficient. Solutions involving biohybrid implants, where neural stem cells are grown in vitro on an active support before implantation, have attracted attention. Using such an approach, combined with recent advancements in microfabrication technology, the chemical and physical environment of cells can be tailored in order to control their behaviors. Herein, a neural stem cell polycarbonate fiber scaffold, fabricated by 3D printing and thermal drawing, is presented. The combined effect of surface microstructure and chemical functionalization using poly-ʟ-ornithine (PLO) and double-walled carbon nanotubes (DWCNTs) on the biocompatibility of the scaffold, induced differentiation of the neural stem cells (NSCs) and channeling of the neural cells was investigated. Upon treatment of the fiber scaffold with a suspension of DWCNTs in PLO (0.039 gL-1) and without recombinants a high degree of differentiation of NSCs into neuronal cells was confirmed by using nestin, galactocerebroside (GalC) and doublecortin (Dcx) immunoassays. These findings illuminate the potential use of this biohybrid approach for the realization of future nerve regenerative implants.

  • 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.

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