To date, endovascular surgeries are performed using the golden standard of Fluoroscopy, which uses ionising radiation to visualise catheters and vasculature. Prolonged Fluoroscopic exposure is harmful for the patient and the clinician, and may lead to severe post-operative sequlae such as the development of cancer. Meanwhile, the use of interventional Ultrasound has gained popularity, due to its well-known benefits of small spatial footprint, fast data acquisition, and higher tissue contrast images. However, ultrasound images are hard to interpret, and it is difficult to localise vessels, catheters, and guidewires within them. This work proposes a solution using an adaptation of a state-of-the-art machine learning transformer architecture to detect and segment catheters in axial interventional Ultrasound image sequences. The network architecture was inspired by the Attention in Attention mechanism, temporal tracking networks, and introduced a novel 3D segmentation head that performs 3D deconvolution across time. In order to facilitate training of such deep learning networks, we introduce a new data synthesis pipeline that used physics-based catheter insertion simulations, along with a convolutional ray-casting ultrasound simulator to produce synthetic ultrasound images of endovascular interventions. The proposed method is validated on a hold-out validation dataset, thus demonstrated robustness to ultrasound noise and a wide range of scanning angles. It was also tested on data collected from silicon-based aorta phantoms, thus demonstrated its potential for translation from sim-to-real. This work represents a significant step towards safer and more efficient endovascular surgery using interventional ultrasound.
In this article, we investigate the model based position control of soft hydraulic actuators arranged in an antagonistic pair. A dynamical model of the system is constructed by employing the port-Hamiltonian formulation. A control algorithm is designed with an energy shaping approach which accounts for the pressure dynamics of the fluid. A nonlinear observer is included to compensate the effect of unknown external forces. Simulations demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach, and experiments achieve positioning accuracy of 0.043 mm with a standard deviation of 0.033 mm in the presence of constant external forces up to 1 N.
Telesurgical robotic systems provide a well established form of assistance in the operating theater, with evidence of growing uptake in recent years. Until now, the da Vinci surgical system (Intuitive Surgical Inc, Sunnyvale, California) has been the most widely adopted robot of this kind, with more than 6,700 systems in current clinical use worldwide. To accelerate research on robotic-assisted surgery, the retired first-generation da Vinci robots have been redeployed for research use as "da Vinci Research Kits" (dVRKs), which have been distributed to research institutions around the world to support both training and research in the sector. In the past ten years, a great amount of research on the dVRK has been carried out across a vast range of research topics. During this extensive and distributed process, common technical issues have been identified that are buried deep within the dVRK research and development architecture, and were found to be common among dVRK user feedback, regardless of the breadth and disparity of research directions identified. This paper gathers and analyzes the most significant of these, with a focus on the technical constraints of the first-generation dVRK, which both existing and prospective users should be aware of before embarking onto dVRK-related research. The hope is that this review will aid users in identifying and addressing common limitations of the systems promptly, thus helping to accelerate progress in the field.
Soft robotic manipulators are attractive for a range of applications such as medical interventions or industrial inspections in confined environments. A myriad of soft robotic manipulators have been proposed in the literature, but their designs tend to be relatively similar, and generally offer a relatively low force. This limits the payload they can carry and therefore their usability. A comparison of force of the different designs is not available under a common framework, and designs present different diameters and features that make them hard to compare. In this paper, we present the design of a soft robotic manipulator that is optimised to maximise its force while respecting typical application constraints such as size, workspace, payload capability, and maximum pressure. The design presented here has the advantage that it morphs to an optimal design as it is pressurised to move in different directions, and this leads to higher lateral force. The robot is designed using a set of principles and thus can be adapted to other applications. We also present a non-dimensional analysis for soft robotic manipulators, and we apply it to compare the performance of the design proposed here with other designs in the literature. We show that our design has a higher force than other designs in the same category. Experimental results confirm the higher force of our proposed design.
Autonomous robots in endovascular operations have the potential to navigate circulatory systems safely and reliably while decreasing the susceptibility to human errors. However, there are numerous challenges involved with the process of training such robots such as long training duration due to sample inefficiency of machine learning algorithms and safety issues arising from the interaction between the catheter and the endovascular phantom. Physics simulators have been used in the context of endovascular procedures, but they are typically employed for staff training and generally do not conform to the autonomous cannulation goal. Furthermore, most current simulators are closed-source which hinders the collaborative development of safe and reliable autonomous systems. In this work, we introduce CathSim, an open-source simulation environment that accelerates the development of machine learning algorithms for autonomous endovascular navigation. We first simulate the high-fidelity catheter and aorta with the state-of-the-art endovascular robot. We then provide the capability of real-time force sensing between the catheter and the aorta in the simulation environment. We validate our simulator by conducting two different catheterisation tasks within two primary arteries using two popular reinforcement learning algorithms, Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO) and Soft Actor-Critic (SAC). The experimental results show that using our open-source simulator, we can successfully train the reinforcement learning agents to perform different autonomous cannulation tasks.
Conventional computer-assisted orthopaedic navigation systems rely on the tracking of dedicated optical markers for patient poses, which makes the surgical workflow more invasive, tedious, and expensive. Visual tracking has recently been proposed to measure the target anatomy in a markerless and effortless way, but the existing methods fail under real-world occlusion caused by intraoperative interventions. Furthermore, such methods are hardware-specific and not accurate enough for surgical applications. In this paper, we propose a RGB-D sensing-based markerless tracking method that is robust against occlusion. We design a new segmentation network that features dynamic region-of-interest prediction and robust 3D point cloud segmentation. As it is expensive to collect large-scale training data with occlusion instances, we also propose a new method to create synthetic RGB-D images for network training. Experimental results show that our proposed markerless tracking method outperforms recent state-of-the-art approaches by a large margin, especially when an occlusion exists. Furthermore, our method generalises well to new cameras and new target models, including a cadaver, without the need for network retraining. In practice, by using a high-quality commercial RGB-D camera, our proposed visual tracking method achieves an accuracy of 1-2 degress and 2-4 mm on a model knee, which meets the standard for clinical applications.
Robotic-assisted surgery is now well-established in clinical practice and has become the gold standard clinical treatment option for several clinical indications. The field of robotic-assisted surgery is expected to grow substantially in the next decade with a range of new robotic devices emerging to address unmet clinical needs across different specialities. A vibrant surgical robotics research community is pivotal for conceptualizing such new systems as well as for developing and training the engineers and scientists to translate them into practice. The da Vinci Research Kit (dVRK), an academic and industry collaborative effort to re-purpose decommissioned da Vinci surgical systems (Intuitive Surgical Inc, CA, USA) as a research platform for surgical robotics research, has been a key initiative for addressing a barrier to entry for new research groups in surgical robotics. In this paper, we present an extensive review of the publications that have been facilitated by the dVRK over the past decade. We classify research efforts into different categories and outline some of the major challenges and needs for the robotics community to maintain this initiative and build upon it.