Sick Kids takes center stage in robotics, imaging, and simulation technology development

At first glance, a primary-time visitor to the Hospital for Sick Children, or “SickKids” as it’s more commonly known, might be forgiven for thinking that they were during a plush plaza instead of a serious specialist pediatric hospital. Indeed, it\’s all the trimmings of coffee bars, food outlets, and such forth.

The downtown Toronto-based hospital may be a sprawling campus of old and new buildings, colorful furniture, and equipment, and boasts one among only three medical centers within the city equipped with a helipad.

Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Innovation

Somehow, the mixture seems to works because the hospital has grown rapidly to become Canada’s largest centre for child health research. Supporting this strategy has been the Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Innovation (CIGITI), which was found out at SickKids in 2009 and, as a part of a public/private partnership is developing three technologies with paediatric and foetal applications: namely minimally-invasive endoscopic manipulators, a natural orifice anastomotic device and MR-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound.

In the case of the KidsArm technology development, the general public contribution comes within the sort of research and clinical expertise (SickKids) and government-based funding, whilst the private sector contribution encompasses contributing robotics (MDA Corporation), imaging (Philips Healthcare), and simulation (L-3 Communications MAPPS) technology.

The ambition for KidsArm can hardly be described as modest. The goal is for the technology to effectively secure an edge as a world leader in robotic surgery and imaging.

Billed because of the first robotic surgical arm for pediatric imaging, the device allows surgeons to navigate to a selected treatment area without impacting upon structures like blood vessels. It could even be wont to perform procedures like the suturing of vessels and tissues at a rate of a minimum of ten times faster than a surgeon.

The surgical platform is meant to be used across all key surgical specialties, including cardiac, fetal, neurosurgery/general surgery, and neurosurgical areas. The device also has the advantage of producing virtual reality-based models which will be utilized in planning and teaching.

As with all high-profile technological breakthroughs, CIGITI has not got a transparent field in terms of competitors, which include the likes of Intuitive Surgical, which has emerged in recent times as a pacesetter in robotic technology through its DaVinci system. Still, confidence within the KidsArm’s attributes is robust and during a presentation to analysts, CIGITI isn’t scared of holding back on an immediate head-on comparison with Intuitive Surgical.

First up, CIGITI says the KidsArm is markedly smaller and lighter than that from Intuitive, which its device is going to be less expensive and adaptable than its rival. because the kids are device is specifically targeted for paediatric use, it also can be used for any procedures that need minimal inversion.

In contrast, Intuitive’s technology stands accused of being overlarge for pediatric use and limited to urological applications. Other technology standouts for KidsArm include built-in telesurgery and imaging guidance initially focused on MRI.

Unlike Intuitive, the development of CIGITI’s technology remains at the relatively embryonic stage, although a clinical working model is predicted to emerge within two years. Backed by C$10 million in funding awarded by the Canadian government in 2010, phase I clinical trial of the program, which started in 2009, has been focused on the event of technological innovations like within the areas of advanced complex surgical delivery, multi-modality fusion, and real-time image guidance and creation of surgical simulation models.

Whilst this process remains continuing throughout 2012, phase II clinical trial of the program, which started in 2011 and can last two years, involves a critical appraisal of the KidsArm technology. This includes a review of minimally-invasive surgery (MIS) vs robotic surgery, a glance at fusion and real-time image guidance, and improving the accuracy of the surgical system and simulation modules.

The analysis also will be administered at high-frequency imaging for fetal intervention procedures. All this work, if it continues to impress, is probably going to steer to commercial and clinical opportunities for the technology from 2014 onwards.

So why maybe a hospital taking such a lively role in the development and when its primary role is providing healthcare provision? apart from the revenue earning potential of making IP assets which will be licensed or used for start-up companies, the collaboration stands to general high-end manufacturing jobs, healthcare, and research opportunities and substantially improve the education available from school students and rising all the high to medical staff, both in Canada and therefore the province of Ontario.

For SickKids, such efforts help to enhance patient care and therefore the quality of healthcare provided by the institution by introducing novel image-guided tools into the pediatric setting.

So far, in only two years, SickKids/CIGITI has created a variety of positions across all levels of academia, filed for 3 patents covering surgical tools (including one for KidsArm), secured C$25.8 million in research funding, signed a contract with Medical Modeling concerning patient-specific cranial facial models and templates and forged tentative links with venture capitalists.


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