Department first in Midwest to install and use advanced robotic surgical assistant

May 26, 2016
ROSA Robotic Surgical Assistant

On May 24, neurosurgical operating room staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) took a leap into the future. Led by the Department of Neurosurgery’s Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Michael C. Park, MD, PhD, they performed a procedure on a patient using Medtech’s Robotic Surgical Assistant or ROSA™.

UMMC is the first center in the Midwest to install and use ROSA. “We jumped from a traditional stereotactic platform, which is somewhat cumbersome, to a robotic platform,” explained Park.

3-D maps
Combining a computer brain with a flexible robotic arm, ROSA helps neurosurgeons such as Park do things like making pre-operative 3-D maps of a patient’s brain and creating precise surgical approaches and plans.

In the OR, pre-planning done by the surgeon with ROSA’s help acts as a sort of super-precise GPS. “Before, I would have to hold a pointer at just the right angle on the patient’s brain to see if I was at the correct spot,” said Park. “ROSA helps remove that human variable. If you pick a trajectory in the virtual brain that we used to guide our surgeries, ROSA will align itself to that trajectory every time. It reduces the ‘fiddle factor’ of us trying to find the correct trajectory.”

Michael Park, MD, PhDLess time for surgery
That means that surgery may take less time, which is great for patients. That is especially true for depth electrode placement during stereotactic EEG procedures for epilepsy patients. “You have multiple electrodes that need to go in at different trajectories to different targets,” said Park (pictured at left). “After you have everything set up, you simply go from one trajectory to the next and ROSA positions itself to the planned trajectory accurately and consistently.” This type of procedure is used to determine the location of epileptic seizures in a patient’s brain.

But that’s not all ROSA can help do. According to Medtech’s website, the robotic system’s inherent flexibility can help a surgeon with "biopsies, implanting electrodes for functional procedures (stimulation of the cerebral cortex, deep brain stimulation), open skull surgical procedures using navigation, ventricular and transnasal endoscopy, as well as other keyhole [or minimally invasive] procedures."

Not a substitute for the surgeon
Make no mistake, ROSA is not a substitute for the surgeon. “This doesn’t replace my hands,” noted Park. “It’s a steady robotic arm that can hold instruments firmly and in the correct and desired position while I operate. It doesn’t do the surgery for me.”

Park noted that learning how to use ROSA wasn’t too complicated. And from an educational perspective, he added, having the system available to residents gives them “another trick up their sleeves.”

“ROSA further enhances our world-class deep brain stimulation program,” observed Professor and Department Head Stephen Haines, MD. “And the creative minds in the department will be looking for unique and novel ways to use the system to continually improve what we do.”

See ROSA in action
This 360-degree video gives you a chance to see Dr. Park using ROSA during a depth electrode procedure his UMMC team performed on an epilepsy patient. It’s best viewed using a smart phone.