In the Whiting School's high-tech Swirnow Mock Operating Room, engineers, surgeons and computer scientists work daily to push the frontiers of medicine with surgical robots that test the safest, most-efficient treatments for patients.
In this National Science Foundation Science Nation report, Russell Taylor '70, director of the WSE's Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology, says, "We're trying to couple the capabilities of machines with the judgment of humans to do a better job. We have the opportunity to work at the cutting edge of technology in direct partnership with physicians that have real problems."
Taylor in October was awarded the 2010 Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) Society's Enduring Impact Award, a highly prestigious award given annually for leadership in the field.
One system, the da Vinci Surgical System, enables surgeons to pursue the most complex techniques using a minimally invasive approach. Surgeons maneuver the da Vinci instruments through a patient's body via control handles outside the operating room, while observing a 3D video image of the surgical site. From the console's master controls, surgeons see their movements and feel the force of their surgical instrument.
The da Vinci surgical robot first entered the field of minimally invasive surgery in 1990 and quickly became the preferred tool for operating on patients with prostate conditions. Johns Hopkins Hospital helped pioneered the use of the system in cardiac surgery in 2003 when Drs. William A. Baumgartner and David D. Yuh used it to place a biventricular pacemaker lead on a beating heart.
Today, the da Vinci is used in a variety of fields, including bariatric, gynecological and cardiovascular surgery. For some patients, the high-tech surgical approach has been life-saving.