The next step for robotics: More accurate ultrasound- guided needle targeting
“We believe that the use of the robot can potentially improve the accuracy of prostate biopsies and detect prostate cancer better than a freehand biopsy.”
In the U.S. alone, about one million prostate biopsies are performed every year. If each biopsy takes at least a dozen cores of tissue, that’s an awful lot of needle sticks – especially for men who are getting a repeat biopsy.
Most of those biopsies are done freehand with transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) guidance – and there is room for improvement.
Previously, in an effort to make prostate biopsy more accurate, the Brady’s own master mechanical engineer, Dan Stoianovici, Ph.D., director of the Urology Robotics Program, designed and developed a novel robot to hold and move the ultrasound probe accurately and to track the exact location of the ultrasound target. Misop Han, M.D., the David Hall McConnell Professor in Urology, collaborated with Stoianovici to test the device during prostate biopsy in five men.
“We found that the TRUS Robot could handle the ultrasound probe well, with no complications,” says Han. With newly developed software, they were able to reconstruct the 3-D image of the prostate and the biopsy cores within it.
“We proved that 3-D, image-guided robotic biopsy is both feasible and safe,” Han adds. “We believe that the use of the TRUS Robot can potentially improve the accuracy of prostate biopsies and detect prostate cancer better than a freehand biopsy.”
Now, with funding from the Patrick C. Walsh Prostate Cancer Research Fund, Stoianovici is building on this success. He has developed a novel ultrasound probe for imaging the prostate and guiding needle biopsies. “The probe combines imaging and robotic components,” says Stoianovici. “It is an entirely novel concept that offers fundamentally accurate ultrasound-guided needle targeting independent of the physician’s skill.”
The versatile device’s potential applications include “transrectal or transperineal access, systematic or fusion biopsy, and needle-based focal ablations.”
The pair will be bringing the probe to its first clinical trial for safety and feasibility.