NSF/NIH Cyber-Physical Systems grants $1M+ to bring about adaptive electrosurgery


Bentsman, Chamorro, and Ostoja-Starzewski.
Bentsman, Chamorro, and Ostoja-Starzewski.
A multidisciplinary team led by Professor Joseph Bentsman has been awarded a $1M+ grant from the Smart and Connected Health Information and Intelligent Systems Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop a fundamental scientific basis and novel configurations for autonomous robotic electrosurgery. The team includes Dr. Richard Berlin (Carle Foundation Hospital), MechSE Professors Martin Ostoja-Starzewski and Leonardo Chamorro, Bioengineering Professor Rohit Bhargava, and ECE Professor Sudip Mazumder (University of Illinois Chicago).

The team will also be performing extensive experimental electrosurgical studies at UIC Medical School in collaboration with Drs. Enrico Benedetti, Pier C. Giulianotti, and Gabriela M. Aguiluz Cornejo. The approach will use hands-on data collection, multi-mode sensing, fundamental modeling, and real-time adaptation for improving surgical outcomes. 

This research was originated in a joint Coordinated Science Lab (CSL)/UIC effort by Professors Naira Hovakimyan, Lui Sha, Richard Berlin, Enrico Benedetti, and Pier C. Giulianotti with the goal of developing a smart knife—a surgical tool capable of autonomous guidance under uncertainty.

After a year of effort, the focus shifted to monopolar electrosurgery as the surgical action of choice due to its capability of cutting the tissue while simultaneously controlling the bleeding. It then became clear that the required multi-physics science base for perfused biological tissue involving phase-change-inducing electric currents was practically nonexistent. Further effort by the current team yielded several breakthroughs, such as a discovery that the moving electro-probe action induces hypersonic-type shock waves in biotissue due to the hyperbolic heat conduction in the latter.

Fully establishing this science base to permit minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic monopolar electrosurgery is the first goal of the team’s research effort. The second goal is the development of novel highly controllable electrosurgical configurations. The third goal is the creation of the theory of controlled multi-physics moving boundary networks and surgeon-friendly spatiotemporal real-time observation for handling these configurations during surgery.

The cyber system will be constructed using experimental/testbed facilities in Bentsman’s Advanced Computer Control Lab and validated at the Bruno Pasquinelli Training and Research Robotic Lab at UIC Medical School.