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Robotic Biopsy System Drives the Point Home


Compact, high-torque motors precisely control biopsy needle to improve speed, efficiency, and radiation exposure.
It started out with a simple question one day during Dr. Rajiv Gupta’s residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH): Why, with CT scanners routinely achieving submillimeter resolutions, was he still performing manual needle biopsies with only centimeters of accuracy? There had to be a better way. A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) agreed and built a robotic biopsy system with unprecendented efficiency and accuracy, powered by compact, high-torque motors from MICROMO Electronics.
The procedure for lung biopsies today is to use snapshots from a CT scanner to manually direct a 10- to 20-cm needle from the skin surface into a suspect lesion. An initial scan determines the desired entry point for the needle. Next, the physician pushes in the needle, takes an image, adjusts the needle, takes another image, and so on -- for typically about 10 iterations. The process is time consuming, lacks precision, and subjects the patient to repeated doses of ionizing radiation. Gupta, now director of the Volume CT Laboratory at MGH, thought a robotic system could improve targeting accuracy and speed the process, while reducing x-ray exposure.

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