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IRA, the robot surgical assistant

Researchers:
Professor Blake Hannaford (PI)
Dr. Laligam Sekhar, neurosurgeon, UW Medicine
Niveditha Kalavakonda, graduate student, electrical engineering

Major surgical procedures require a master surgeon and one or more assistants. On top of that, the current high cost of surgical care demands the best use of highly skilled assistants. But this makes it hard for new assistants to get adequate time for training. The Intelligent Surgical Assistant, IRA, will help solve this problem. Developed by a team led by UW electrical engineering Professor Blake Hannaford, and neurosurgeon Dr. Laligam Sekhar, IRA will work unobtrusively in the surgical space. IRA can learn progressively, and also respond to spoken surgeon requests for precise tasks, such as suction and retraction during surgery, anticipating a surgeon’s needs. Trained to the exact preferences of each surgeon, IRA will, lead to a reduction in errors during precise and potentially dangerous operations, such as brain tumor removal.