Hong Kong scientists custom wristbands canadadevelop new robotic system to facilitate Parkinson"s disease treatment

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HONG KONG -- Hong Kong scientists have developed a robotic system that can perform brain surgeries within a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to facilitate the treatment of Parkinson"s disease and other neuropsychiatric disorders, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) said.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a kind of stereotactic neurosurgery that can treat neuropsychiatric disorders, such as Parkinson"s disease. It involves the delivery of electrical signals through implanted electrodes to the deep brain targets, which helps to restore normal nerve cell activity, according to a statement released by HKU researchers on Wednesday.

This surgery is tremendously demanding on accuracy, by targeting only the tiny nucleus structures and not damaging the surrounding critical tissue. To ensure accuracy, the patient needs to have an MRI scanning before the surgery, and the patient is awake under local anesthesia during the course of the surgery.

An HKU mechanical engineering team recently designed a neurosurgical robotic system capable of performing bilateral stereotactic neurosurgery inside an MRI scanner. The team also conducted pre-clinical validation of the system with neurosurgeons from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The compact robot design can be accommodated inside a standard MRI head coil for imaging and intervention. Advanced 3D tracking markers are also developed, which enable fast localization of robot instruments in MRI in real time.

This facilitates less invasive stereotactic procedures on the patient under general anesthesia, as surgeons could accurately control and evaluate the stereotactic manipulation bilaterally to the left and right brain targets in real time.

The team was recently conferred the Best Conference Paper Award in the largest international forum for robotics scientists, the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2018, which was held in Brisbane, Australia, on May 21-25.