Wilkes University’s state-of-the-art Surgical Robotics Laboratory offers Biomedical and Engineering students the latest instructional and hands-on experience in robot-assisted, minimally invasive surgical procedures. Cutting-edge technology allows students to remotely control intelligent robots within the abdominal cavity. These miniature devices perform dexterous manipulations while enhancing views from arbitrary angles unavailable through traditional surgical methods. Highly trained faculty members collaborate with Geisinger Medical Center surgeons to teach students a multitude of skills, including shortening incision lengths to reduce infection risks, vital for saving lives.
Wilkes is the only university in northeastern Pennsylvania to partner with Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA, in conducting the testing of robotic surgical procedures and applications.
Our state-of-the art instructional and practical Surgical Robotics Lab offers video and teleconferencing with Geisinger Medical Center’s Robotic Surgery expert Dr. Heinric Williams, surgeon in Geisinger’s Department of Urology.
The Surgical Robotics Lab is outfitted with Mediascape technology, featuring Leapfrog and Stylist applications, which free students from work stations, facilitating learning. Other features include a smart white board, a mobile station fully-equipped with laptops and a surgical simulator station.
An Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Surgical Robotics Lab Manager, Dr. Xiaoli Zhang earned her PhD Degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009. She received a Masters of Science in Mechatronics and a Bachelors of Science, both from the Xi’an Jiaotong University China. Dr. Zhang currently mentors two Surgical Robotic Senior Projects -- “Development of a Novel Robot for Surgical Training” and “Intuitive Control of a Surgical Robot With a Haptic Joystick.”
Eye Tracking for Human-Computer Communication
It is known in the cognitive sciences that looking at an object reflects a human interest or attraction to the object. Therefore, it is natural for users to indicate which item within their field of vision, they would like to manipulate.
The disabled and the elderly, having difficulties with upper-limb movements, suffer from the interaction with computers using conventional interface devices, such as joysticks or keyboards. A computer interface using real-time eye-gaze tracking technology solves this problem. By tracking where the user is looking on the computer screen. This point operates the same as a computer mouse click command.
Miniature Robot for Minimally Invasive Surgery
Laparoscopic techniques have allowed surgeons to perform operations through small incisions. However, the benefits of laparoscopy are still restricted to less complex procedures, due to limitations in imaging and dexterity. The goal of our research is in developing miniature robots to be placed within the abdominal cavity as a surgical assistant. These remotely controlled in vivo robots provide the surgeon with an enhanced field of view from arbitrary angles. They also provide dexterous manipulations unconstrained by small incisions in the abdominal wall.
Surgical Training and Objective Assessment System
A novel, simple robotic system is developed for surgical training in minimally invasive surgery. Other research focuses on building robots to automatically measure instrument motion data in real time without the need for extra sensing mechanisms. Kinematics equations are integrated in the control software to map motor motion with instrument tip movements.
Recorded motion data can then be analyzed for objective evaluations using well-established criteria. Experiment results have shown that this compact robot provides good stability and smooth motion while the surgeon is holding instruments.
The robot combines the realistic feel of MIS instruments with the capability of the computer to tabulate objective performance and skill measurements. Its flexibility as a training tool provides surgeons with excellent practice and outcome assessments.