New Robotic System Should Lead to More Accurate Prostate Cancer Biopsies
A new robotic system that can operate inside MRI scanners is currently on trial at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, US. The system was developed as part of a partnership between Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Johns Hopkins and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and was designed to improve prostate cancer biopsies. Prostate cancer is the last type of cancer that is still diagnosed using blind needle biopsies. It is estimated that 35 percent of serious tumors may be overlooked during initial tests that are only guided by ultrasound. The high rate of errors means patients need to return for repeat tests which delays their care and causes unnecessary discomfort to patients.
MRI produces detailed anatomical and tissue-characterization images of the prostate and can detect potentially cancerous lesions. Currently physicians use ultrasound, but the actual needle insertions are conducted randomly which can produce misleading results. The novel robot system operates inside the MRI bore and operates a needle guide to select the optimal test positions using the high resolution images of the MRI scanner. The researchers involved anticipate that using the robot will lead to fewer needle placements, faster procedures, a reduction in repeat biopsies and lower costs, physically and financially, for patients.