We aim to design technologies that have the potential to transform healthcare and save lives by widening accessibility of screening, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in settings that are currently underserved.
The research focus of the Science and Technologies Of Robotics in Medicine (STORM) Lab spans several fields of surgical robotics, with particular focus on affordable intelligent endoscopy, medical capsule robots, soft magnetic continuum manipulators and autonomy in robotic surgery.
Affordable Intelligent Endoscopy
As the World Health Organization (WHO) recently highlighted, sustainable development in low resource countries will be hard to achieve unless the international health and development community addresses the enormous global burden of surgical conditions. In low and middle-income countries (LMICs) over 90% of the population do not have access to safe, affordable surgical care. There is an urgent need to scale-up surgical services to prevent them becoming a major barrier to national income growth, economic productivity, and improved human welfare. The goals of our research are to identify the barriers to surgical care, characterize and prioritize the unmet surgical needs, and develop affordable technological solutions that are intelligent enough to lower the barriers for healthcare delivery. Our work is highly multidisciplinary and is the result of a well-established link between the Faculty of Engineering, the Academic Unit of Surgery, the Nuffield Centre for International Health and Development, and a strong network of partners in LMICs, including Sierra Leone, India, Honduras and rural areas of China.
Medical Capsule Robots
Capsule robots are mesoscale devices that leverage extreme miniaturization to access environments that are out of reach of larger robots and that can push the boundaries of how diseases are diagnosed and treated.
In medicine, capsule robots can enter the human body through natural orifices or small incisions and perform diagnostics and therapeutics while minimizing the invasiveness of the procedure. While some diagnostic capsules are already on the market, one of the biggest challenges still remains: to actively control the position of the device inside the body. This is important as it will allow therapeutic tasks to be performed, while also improving diagnostic efficacy.
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a difficult technique to access, diagnose and operate on the internal organs of the human body through tiny incisions.
Despite offering several advantages when compared to open surgery, including a faster recovery time for the patient, this technique is still far from optimal.
Open limitations are (i) inability to reach deep inside the human body via tortuous pathways, (ii) limited workspace of operation, (iii) poor ergonomics, requiring long training for surgeons.
With our activities, we try to improve minimally invasive surgery via innovative robotic approaches.