Technologies 2017

Force Guided Surgical Navigation Tool

Catheter Contact-Force Controller

Diagnostic Method for Zika Virus

Force Guided Surgical Navigation Tool

Current surgical tracking systems are costly and obtrusive. Optical trackers suffer from line-of-sight problems and have a significant number of accessories that require sterilization and inventory management. This has prompted the need for an improved tracking system to address these drawbacks.

A research team at Western University has addressed this issue by developing a surgical tracking system that fits entirely within the surgical field and uses low-cost disposable fixtures, thus requiring no sterilization or inventory of parts. It is cost effective, highly accurate, small and not obtrusive in the operating theatre. This patent protected technology monitors reaction forces through a flexible component attached to the patient’s osseous anatomy at the surgical site. The force data is converted into spatial navigation based on a pre-operative plan. The navigation system simultaneously compensates for unanticipated movement of patient anatomy.

This navigation tool does not need to be calibrated or registered during the operation. The surgeon simply attaches the mount to bone, connects the flexible component to the robot, and proceeds with navigation. Overall, this new technology provides a faster and more cost-effective surgical navigation method than current tracking systems.

Potential Advantages

  • Portable, highly robust and accurate
  • No sterilization required
  • Significant reduction in cost (both monetary and time)

  • Louis Ferreira

    Dr. Louis Ferreira has a joint appointment in the departments of Surgery, and Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Western University. His research is primarily in the field of Medical Mechatronics, with special interest in orthopaedic surgery and the biomechanics of major joints. The focus of his work is to improve healthcare in the context of orthopaedic surgeries, with specific objectives to improve surgical outcomes and eliminate unnecessary surgical revisions.

Catheter Contact-Force Controller

Western and Robarts scientists have developed a new device to address a common problem in catheter ablation therapy in treating patients cardiac arrhythmia. Cardiac interventionalists face great difficulty when trying to deliver durable and transmural radiofrequency (RF) lesions to a patient’s heart. The problem lies in their inability to maintain desired contact-force between the catheter and the heart wall, due to the cardiac and respiratory motion. As a result, about half of patients require repeated treatments due to recurrence of arrhythmia post-treatment. The catheter contact-force controller (CFC) was developed to address this problem – it is an add-on tool to existing catheters commercially used in the clinic. The CFC system stabilizes contact-force during RF delivery thereby increasing procedure efficacy rates, improving patients’ quality of life, and reducing healthcare costs.

How It Works

  1. Installation. The CFC is firmly clamped onto a commercial steerable sheath and contact-force ablation catheter, and is connected to an embedded electronic control system.
  2. Activation. Force parameters are selected using a user interface and a foot pedal allows the interventionalist to easily activate (and deactivate) the CFC at the time of their choosing. Upon activation, the catheter is automatically advanced to make contact with the moving tissue; once RF delivery is complete, the catheter retracts.
  3. Automation. During RF delivery, an advanced control system processed in embedded electronics monitors contact-force in real-time and autonomously positions the ablation catheter to ensure a desired force level is always met. The CFC greatly reduces fluctuations in contact force, regardless of the cardiorespiratory motion.

Potential Advantages

  • Optimization of ablation delivery by effective contact-force control.
  • Safe and effective lesion delivery to targets with significant cardio-respiratory motion.
  • Easily integrated with commercially available contact-force ablation catheters. No need for proprietary instruments.
  • Disposable components of the CFC permit a high level of sterility.

Danny Gelman

Dr. Daniel Gelman, PhD, is using robotics to solve real world clinical problems. With a background in electrical and computer engineering, Gelman is developing devices with the potential to improve cardiovascular interventions. This involves taking instruments that are used clinically and attaching them to a robot in order to manipulate those instruments more effectively and hopefully improve procedures. Gelman is completed his doctoral work in Biomedical Engineering and was supervised by Robarts scientist Maria Drangova, PhD.

Diagnostic Method for Zika Virus

Parental exposure to Zika virus can cause fetal microcephaly (underdeveloped brain and skull in newborns) even after the active infection has subsided and symptoms (if present) have resolved. Because of this, there is a need to easily, rapidly and reliably detect both active and previous Zika exposures.

Unfortunately, there is currently no “gold standard” tool for detecting the ZIKA virus. Currently available methods of detecting the virus are either limited by their narrow window of testing, or by their lack of specificity in detecting Zika over similar, and often non-threatening, viruses.

Through the use of mass spectrometry technologies, scientists have found a way to detect Zika specific biological molecules in saliva samples that is sensitive to active infections as well as within a window after infection that is more than 6 times longer than what current technology allows. Importantly, this extended window of detection improves the chances of detecting Zika virus in an infected person, since there are no immediate signs and symptoms after infection.

How it works

  1. A sample of saliva is gathered from a person suspected of having Zika.
  2. Using mass spectrometry-based proteomics, the technology identifies biological molecules in the saliva that are specific markers of the Zika virus.
  3. The technology indicates to the user that Zika virus has been detected in a person’s saliva.

Potential Advantages

  • Quick and non-invasive sample collection
  • Rapid, automated testing immediately upon obtaining sample
  • Reduces risk of inconclusive outcomes by only detecting Zika specific molecules
  • Increases the window of detection of biological molecules
  • Potential for use in detecting other viral diseases (i.e. West Nile and Dengue)

Walter Siqueira

Dr. Walter Siqueira, DDS, PhD, is one of the first and only dental clinician-scientists in Canada conducting salivary proteome research. His research has focused on how saliva could be used to improve the health of patients, both as a diagnostic tool and as a therapeutic one.