A cooperatively-controlled image guided robot system for skull base surgery.


We created an image-guided robot system to assist with skull base drilling by integrating a robot, a commercial navigation system, and an open source visualization platform. The objective of this procedure is to create a cavity in the skull base to allow access for neurosurgical interventions. The motivation for introducing an image-guided robot is to improve safety by preventing the surgeon from accidentally damaging critical structures during the drilling procedure. Our approach is to attach the cutting tool to the robot end-effector and operate the robot in a cooperative control mode, where robot motion is determined from the forces and torques applied by the surgeon. We employ “virtual fixtures” to constrain the motion of the cutting tool so that it remains in the safe zone that was defined on a preoperative CT scan. This paper presents the system design and the results of phantom and cadaveric experiments. Both experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of the system, with average overcut error at about 1 mm and maximum errors at 2.5 mm.