UCLA School of Medicine and Computer Motion Inc. win $2 million federal award to collaborate on development of world's first telemedicine surgical training system

November 01, 2001

UCLA's School of Medicine and Computer Motion Inc., the world's leading developer of surgical robotic systems, announced Nov. 1 that they have agreed to collaborate. The collaboration will be funded with a $2 million research-and-development grant from the National Institute of Standards Advanced Technology Program 2001 competition.

Computer Motion, UCLA School of Medicine, Dr. Ranjan Mukherjee of Michigan State University and Dr. Steven Butner of UC Santa Barbara will work together to combine surgical robotic systems with telemedicine to allow highly skilled surgeons to closely guide surgeons-in-training through complex, minimally invasive surgical procedures.

The proposed training system is based on the integration of four of Computer Motion's FDA-cleared robotic surgical systems and features Zeus, which is a robotic system for minimally invasive microsurgical procedures. The system will be modified to include two identical surgeon consoles with shared control of a single set of "arms" that are used to operate on the patient.

Other significant developments to the system will include "haptic" feedback so that surgeons-in-training can actually feel their mentor's actions through the console controls and experience surgery through the hands of an expert. In September, doctors using a non-FDA cleared, specially modified Zeus system performed the world's first transatlantic telesurgery. The system was used by a surgeon operating from a console in New York to remove the gallbladder of a patient located in France.

"This could be the world's first tele-collaborative surgical system. We hope to develop a program that mimics a flight simulator to help train future surgeons," said Dr. E. Carmack Holmes, professor and chairman of the department of surgery at UCLA. "The collaboration with Computer Motion and our partner universities will extend the reach of the pioneers of minimally invasive surgery here at UCLA, across the nation, and around the globe."

Dr. Peter Schulam, chief of the division of endourology and laparoscopy at UCLA Medical Center and the lead clinical investigator of the grant, said, "Less invasive surgery brings significant benefits to patients, including faster recovery times and reduced pain and trauma. However, the demand for surgeon training far outpaces the time that experts have to train surgeons in these new procedures."

"The shared-control robotic system to be developed with this grant will let experts give the fundamental physical interaction, that is critical for training, to more surgeons while eliminating the demand of travel time on their schedules," Schulam said.

Yulun Wang, founder and chief technical officer of Computer Motion and principal investigator of the grant, said, "Computer Motion has always believed that the development of a broad-base of products that offer many benefits to our customers is of fundamental importance in creating a successful business."

"We also believe that by combining forces with leading researchers from institutions like UCLA, UCSB and Michigan State University, who will be working with us on this exciting project, we will be able to accelerate the speed with which we can drive new product research and development," Wang said.
The National Institute of Standards Advanced Technology Program is a unique program whose purpose is to accelerate the development of innovative technologies that promise to expand new markets and provide widespread health benefits for the nation. As stated in the award, "The potential market opportunity for tele-collaboration in medicine and surgery is in the billions of dollars per year."

Computer Motion is a high-tech medical device company evolving surgical practices to enhance patients' lives. The company develops, manufactures and markets proprietary computer-enhanced and robotic surgical systems, which augment surgeons' capabilities, improve outcomes and reduce costs. Computer Motion plays a significant role in transitioning the surgical community from current open procedures to increasingly demanded endoscopic procedures. For more information, see the company's Web site at http://www.computermotion.com/.

University of California - Los Angeles

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