Ultrasonic project at cutting edge of surgery

Scientists at the cutting edge of robotic surgery innovation have been awarded funding of more than £6million to develop new ways of using ultrasonic tools.

The five-year project, led by the University of Glasgow and involving teams from Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton, aims to take advantage of the opportunities offered by ultrasonic technologies to ensure they are widely adopted for surgery.

Ultrasonic tools are already in use in surgery but their full potential has still to be realised and through the use of new technology the researchers plan to create a new generation of miniaturised versions.

The devices will be delivered deep into the human body by the tentacles of new surgical robots to carry out minimally-invasive operations on delicate tissue area faster, more safely and with increased precision. Ultimately, use of the devices will allow more procedures to be carried out in out-patient clinics or with day surgery.

Funding of £6.1million has been provided by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“Many benefits will be delivered from new forms of ultrasonic tools. Traditional tools require surgeons to use high forces to cut through bone, for example, where an ultrasonic tool can be tuned to produce an effortless cut,” said Margaret Lucas, Professor of Ultrasonics in the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering.

“That tuning process also ensures that the ultrasonic device can be tissue selective, able to cut through one tissue without damage to others.

“Currently, ultrasonic surgical devices suffer from a lack of understanding of the beneficial and damaging effects of high power ultrasonic vibrations interacting with tissue. My interdisciplinary research team of Engineers and Clinicians will overcome this by relating cell and tissue responses to the motion of ultrasound via ultra-high-speed imaging. The new understanding will aid the design of revolutionary new tools.”

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