by Jumpei Arata, Munenori Uemura, Ryu Nakadate and Makoto Hashizume
The Department of Integration of Advanced Medicine, Life Science, and Innovative Technology in Kyushu University Hospital, was established in 2002 and is headed by Prof. Makoto Hashizume. It deals with the development of advanced medical systems and their clinical applications. Its primary goal is to provide improved assessments and treatments in current clinical practice by introducing cutting edge technologies.
Navigation is one of the areas in which our group is actively working. We developed a surgical navigation system with augmented reality technology for laparoscopic surgery in 2002. More recently, we developed a surgical navigation system with a sound feedback technique for use in otolaryngology. The system includes epoch-making registration called surface template-assisted marker positioning. This technique is performed using a fabricated template based on preoperative computed tomographic scans of otolaryngological anatomical points. Surface template-assisted marker positioning has increased the registration accuracy and has drastically reduced the time required for otolaryngological procedures.
Surgical skill training is another area in which we are contributing to computer-assisted surgery. We funded a Training Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery in 2004, and more than 1800 trainees from all over Japan have participated in monthly seminars during the last decade. We have developed training programs and assessment systems to evaluate surgical skills objectively.
Our latest training system, using five criteria, is able to assess surgeons’ skills regarding their ability to create anastomoses. We then compare their skill levels with those of expert surgeons in our database.
We believe that surgeons’ capability in terms of dexterity and precision can be augmented by robotic technology, a promising surgical area. One of our latest research projects has focused on a miniaturized, nonmotorized, multiple degrees-of-freedom endoscopic instrument (diameter 2.6 mm, 4 of freedom). It has been shown to improve dexterity significantly compared with conventional endoscopic instruments. We are hoping to apply this technology to procedures such as endoscopic submucosal dissection. Evaluation tests are currently ongoing.
We are working together with clinicians as well as a team of robotic/software/image processing engineers at our group. Our aim is to bring further benefits in the field of computer-assisted surgery by promoting unification of medicine and engineering at the academic level as well as the individual researcher level.
Associate Prof. Ph.D.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Kyushu
University, 744 Motooka, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka 819-0395, Japan