At the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020, scientists stated that it is feasible to treat brain aneurysms which could allow for the improved precision while placing stents, coils and other devices. The conference which took place during February 19-21 in Los Angles is a world premier meeting of researchers and clinicians who are dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.
Robots are used in surgery and also cardiology but not for the problems related to the brain. In the study, the Canadian researchers reported the results of the first brain vascular procedures. They used a robotic system which is specifically adapted for neurovascular procedures.
Robots used for brain vascular problems
Software and hardware adaptations enable it to accommodate microcatheters, guidewires and the other devices used for endovascular procedures in the brain. These modifications also provide the operator with additional precise fine-motor control compared to previous system models.
"This experience is the first step towards achieving our vision of remote neurovascular procedures," said lead researcher Vitor Mendes Pereira, MD, M.Sc., a neurosurgeon and neuroradiologist at the Toronto Western Hospital, and professor of medical imaging and surgery at the University of Toronto in Canada. "The ability to robotically perform intracranial aneurysm treatment is a major step forward in the neuro-endovascular intervention."
Surgical team successfully used the robot
In the first case, a 64-year-old female patient presented with an unruptured aneurysm at the base of her skull. The surgical team successfully used the robot to place a stent and then, using the same microcatheter, entered the aneurysm sac and secured the aneurysm by placing various coils. All intracranial steps were performed with the robotic arm. Since this first case, the team has successfully performed five additional aneurysm treatments using the robot, which included deploying various devices such as flow-diverting stents.
"The expectation is that future robotic systems will be able to be controlled remotely. For example, I could be at my hospital and deliver therapy to a patient hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away," Mendes Pereira said. "The ability to deliver rapid care through remote robotics for time-critical procedures such as stroke could have a huge impact on improving patient outcomes and allow us to deliver cutting-edge care to patients everywhere, regardless of geography."
"Our experience, and that of future operators of this technology, will help develop the workflows and processes necessary to implement successful robotic programs, which will ultimately help establish remote care networks in the future," Mendes Pereira said.
(With agency inputs)