KUKA Medical Robotics: Partners and references

Medical robotics is a demanding interdisciplinary field.  With the cooperation of strong partners and integrators, KUKA is creating the operating room of the future.

Siemens Healthcare: Medical robots for revolutionary X-ray imagery

The ARTIS pheno from Siemens has brought a new robot-supported angiography system on to the market, replacing its successful predecessor, the Artis zeego. The robotic heart of the X-ray system is a KR QUANTEC with its KR C4 technology, which in recent years has been optimally adapted and expanded for clinical use by the KUKA Medical Robotics team.

The Siemens ARTIS pheno enables quick and precise X-ray investigations of blood vessels using a C-shaped X-ray arm which automatically moves across the patient. The region of the body on which the system is focusing can be imaged from virtually all directions without having to relocate the patient. If an examination has to be interrupted, a memory function within the system allows the position to be recreated exactly at a later point in time. This means results can be checked even during an ongoing intervention.

In the future, the ARTIS pheno will be used in operating rooms throughout the world for minimally invasive surgery, interventional radiology and cardiology.

Thanks to KUKA technology, the Siemens ARTIS pheno has opened up a new dimension in X-ray imagery (© Siemens Healthcare GmbH).

Accuray: Robot-guided radiation therapy

Since 2000, KUKA has been working in partnership with Accuray. The first commercially available robot-guided radiation surgery system arose from this partnership. Since then, the CyberKnife system has been brought into use for high-precision tumor treatment at leading radiation therapy centers throughout the world.

Instead of a scalpel, the surgeon uses a bundled, high-energy X-ray beam. As the patient lies on the operating table this beam is guided around him by a robot arm so that the dose is concentrated in the tumor. An imaging system records the position of the tumor and signals any movement to the robot, which then compensates for these motions. The CyberKnife is thus able to hit tumors with pinpoint accuracy leaving the surrounding healthy tissue undamaged, regardless of where in the body the tumor is located.

During treatment with the CyberKnife the patient lies on the treatment table, which is also controlled by a robot. Stereotactic surgery with the help of a digital imaging system records the position of the tumor and signals any movement – such as motion due to breathing – to the robot. The robot compensates for these motions. This results in extremely high precision and quality of therapy. It is not necessary for the patient to be hospitalized for treatment.

During treatment with the CyberKnife, the patient lies freely positioned on the treatment table, which is also controlled by a robot.

BEC: Patient positioning using KUKA robots

The robot and components supplied by KUKA ensure precise positioning of the patient during radiation therapy. System partners work jointly with KUKA to develop individual solutions for precise positioning of the patient. Buck Engineering and Consulting (BEC) has developed a system for MedAustron. This system, based on a KUKA robot, is in use for positioning the patient at the MedAustron Center for Ion Therapy and Research in Vienna. 

In particle-based radiation therapy, the high-energy ray can only be moved in a very limited manner. Therefore it is necessary to have the facility to move the patient, which is achieved by the use of a robot-controlled treatment table on which the patient lies.

BEC uses KUKA robots for precise positioning of the patient during particle-based radiation therapy (© Thomas Kästenbauer).

AOT: Precise cutting of bones thanks to laser technology

Despite the enormous medical progress in recent years, when it comes to cutting bones surgeons still reach for the saw as they always did. This conventional method forces loose fragments of bone into the cut surfaces. These fragments then delay the healing process in those areas. The Swiss company AOT intends to change this with the project CARLO (Cold Ablation Robot-guided Laser Osteotomy): using cold laser technology the KUKA robot becomes a medical product which can cut bones on a non-contact basis – and not just straight cuts but also curved profiles and interlocking profiles. This method has also several advantages for the patient: the surface of the bone remains intact and the cut can be accurately reassembled so the healing time is significantly reduced.

When a laser head is mounted on the KUKA lightweight robot it becomes a non-contact cutting instrument (© AOT).
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