Faculty team bringing the robotics to robotic surgery

4/24/2018 Miranda Holloway

Written by Miranda Holloway

In collaboration with professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine, MechSE professors Joseph Bentsman, Leonardo Chamorro, and Martin Ostoja-Starzewski are breaking ground on innovative technology that combines robotics and electrosurgery.

“Monopolar electrosurgery now is the absolute leading tool in surgery,” Bentsman said. “But its application in the closed space through tubular guide is at present unsafe. Our project is trying to do whatever is necessary to enable reliable and safe use of monopolar electrosurgical tools in the internal surgery situations.”

Bentsman looks at actuating, sensing, and then controlling the system. Chamorro leads an effort in generating and measuring thermal response of biological tissue samples, using his extensive experimental fluid mechanics background.

Ostoja-Starzewski, who specializes in theoretical and applied mechanics, is working on creating a mathematical model of what is going on inside the body when a surgeon applies monopolar electrosurgery.

“We’re trying to bring it, through modeling and capturing the phenomenology of the process, to the state where it indeed will start acquiring robotic elements in terms of closed loop, autonomy, and communication to the surgeon at the high level so that the surgeon can delegate decisions to the low level that will then be executed autonomously,” Bentsman said. “That really would be a true interaction between engineering and medicine.”

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This story was published April 24, 2018.