3D-printed biopsy robots used for breast cancer testing

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A university student in the Netherlands is using 3D-printed biopsy robots to develop more efficient and accurate methods of testing for breast cancer.

Vincent Groenhuis, a PhD candidate at the University of Twente, has been working on the project, which uses robotic technology in conjunction with MRI scanners, for the past four years.

According to Groenhuis, while MRI scanners are capable of detecting and visualising the location of abnormal tissue accurately, when a biopsy needle is manipulated by hand, the results are sub-optimal.

Groenhuis has investigated various types of robots and produced a number of prototypes that he believes can provide faster and more accurate diagnoses.

“Not all robots can be used successfully in combination with MRI scanners,” said Groenhuis. “Robots are often made of metal and that can cause problems due to the strong magnetic fields created by MRI scanners.”

Using various prototypes of 3D-printed biopsy robots, Vincent Groenhuis has developed methods that make breast cancer testing more accurate and efficient

The latest MURAB (MRI and Ultrasound Robotic Assisted Biopsy) robot combines ultrasound, MRI, elastography and computer vision to implement the correct biopsy strategy based on a patient-specific model. It alsotakes deformations into account.

Another model, Stormram 4, is powered by pressurised air and made of plastic, which means it can be used inside an MRI scanner.

Groenhuis said that Stormram 4 “has brought new energy to breast cancer diagnostics” because of its “highly accurate” use of the needle, virtually real-time scanning using MRI and a single thin needle biopsy.

Groenhuis is also involved in Machnet Robotics, a new spin-off from the University of Twente that aims to bring a robot for MRI-driven biopsies to the market.

The groundwork for this patented robot is being done by a research group led by Stefano Stramigioli, a professor of advanced robotics at the university and involved in the development of medical robots.

Want to learn more about how the latest robotic and automated systems are transforming healthcare and medical science? Robotics and Automation – the UK’s largest dedicated robotics and automation exhibition – takes place on the 3rd and 4th November 2020 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. Register your interest now at www.roboticsandautomation.co.uk

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