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Robotic Breast Exam And Biopsy

A tabletop robot for breast exams and breast biopsy is being developed at Duke University. The current prototype uses a tabletop robot and ultrasound system already under development at Duke, adding the ability to detect a simulated "lesion" in a sponge "breast," pinpoint its location and then perform a limited biopsy.

“After detecting the ‘lesion’ in a simulated breast, the robot was able to calculate its position and then guide a biopsy to its exact location,” said Ned Light, an engineer in the laboratory of Stephen Smith, director of the Duke University Ultrasound Transducer Group and senior member of the research team.

“Based on the results we’ve seen in our laboratory, I am confident that within five to 10 years, robots will be performing routine breast biopsies,” Smith said.

Technovelgy readers have already read about the basic technique and research last summer; see Robot Surgeon - Autonomous Tabletop Robotic Surgery At Duke for additional information and references.

Here's a screen grab of what the artificial intelligence system of the robot "sees" when it looks at the simulated breast.


(Breast biopsy robot uses 3D ultrasound)

Take a look at this brief robot breast exam video from Duke University.

I encountered the first clear idea of this kind of capability in 1969, while reading The Andromeda Strain by (Harvard-educated doctor) Michael Crichton. In the novel, he describes a completely automated patient exam table.

Hall entered a booth and closed the door behind him. There was a couch, and a mass of complex equipment. In front of the couch was a television screen, which showed several lighted points.

"Sit down," said a flat mechanical voice. "Sit down. Sit down."

He sat on the couch.

"Observe the screen before you. Place your body on the couch so that all points are obliterated."

He looked at the screen. He now saw that the points were arranged in the shape of a man...
(Read more about Crichton's Electronic Body Analyzer)

SF readers will probably also think about Larry Niven's autodoc from his 1970 novel Ringworld.

The Duke research is just one approach; take a look at LSTAT-lite Life Support For Trauma and the Trauma Pod Battlefield Medical Treatment System (very nice graphics courtesy of DARPA). Also, ake a look at this video of Doctor-Bots Playing 'Operation'. The idea of a fully robotic breast exam has already been implemented; see Remote-Controlled Robotic Hand Performs Breast Exams for more information.

From Physorg via frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/12/2009)

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