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Managing Editor  | July 2017

Researchers reveal the smallest and most accurate 3-D printed biopsy robot


Researchers at the University of Twente (Netherlands) have unveiled the Stormram 4, which a 3-D printed, plastic robot that is driven by air pressure and that can be used to carry out a biopsy during an MRI scan, according to a report on the school’s website.

 

twente_600_01

Stormram 4 is a 3-D printed, plastic roboto for use in MRI scanners.
(University of Twente/YouTube)

 

The Stormram 4 recently won an award during the Surgical Robotic Challenge held at the international Hamlyn Symposium in London.

 

The article explained, “The Stormram 4 is a stimulus for the entire diagnostic phase of breast cancer; the accurate needle control, effectively real-time MRI scanning and a single, thin-needle biopsy enable quicker and more accurate diagnoses to be made. Medical robotics is sure to become standard procedure in hospitals in the near future.”

 

The robot is driven by rectilinear and curved air-pressure motors and controlled (from outside the scanner) by means of five-meter-long air pipes.

 

As the article noted, “Accurate navigation of the biopsy needle is of crucial importance in combating breast cancer and other forms of cancer. Through the use of special needles, the tip of which can be very hot (thermal ablation) or very cold (cryoablation), it is possible to destroy tumor cells close to the tip of the needle. This enables the treatment of cancer without the need for invasive surgical procedures.”

 

The accuracy of MRI scanners is stunted by having to control needles by hand, according to the university report, so robotics is the future for medical diagnostic procedures. By creating the Stormram 4 with plastic and 3-D printing, the researchers ensured that it would be possible to use it in MRI scanners where metal is not possible.

 

Watch the Stormram 4 in action in the video below:

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