BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A collaboration between the Center for Robotic
Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University at
Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has produced
one of the world's first simulators that closely approximates the
"touch and feel" of the da Vinci™ robotic surgical
The most widely used system of its kind in the world, the da
Vinci robotic surgical system affords all the features that an
experienced surgeon needs to ensure equivalent or superior outcomes
to conventional surgery.
But such a surgical system, like an aircraft, "is only as good
as the pilot, and the current training required for proficiency in
robot-assisted surgery is unfortunately less than ideal," said
Khurshid A. Guru, MD, director of the Center for Robotic Surgery
and attending surgeon in RPCI's Department of Urology. "While
surgical practice does make perfect, we believe that through better
training tools, the early learning curve of robot-assisted surgery
can be shortened without jeopardizing the safety and welfare of
The Robotic Surgical Simulator, or RoSS, addresses the quickly
growing need for a realistic training environment for
robot-assisted surgery, a field that is rapidly expanding and is
expected to constitute a significant number of all surgeries within
the next five to seven years. The RoSS will play a critical,
educational role for RPCI and other similar institutions involved
in robot-assisted surgical systems.
"Think of the RoSS as a flight simulator for surgeons,"
explained Thenkurussi ("Kesh") Kesavadas, PhD, professor of
mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB and head of its Virtual
Reality Lab, who, with Guru, invented the RoSS and founded the
Western New York-based spin-off company, Simulated Surgical
Systems, LLC, to commercialize the simulators.
Creation of the RoSS is an example of how UB and RPCI research
can be commercialized and brought to the marketplace to benefit
Click here for
backgrounder on how the work of Kesavadas led to creation of the
"Until now, surgeons have not had sufficient opportunities
outside of the operating room to gain extensive training in robotic
techniques," said Guru, whose own surgical expertise has made
RPCI's robotics program a Center of Excellence and a world leader
in physician training in robotics. Instead, he explains, surgeons
usually start by "shadowing" a colleague who is more experienced
with robotics in the operating room; once they are seen as having
developed some proficiency, they start doing robotic surgeries on
their own patients.
Already, at least 70 percent of all prostate surgeries in the
U.S. are performed using robotic surgical systems (at RPCI, that
percentage is closer to 100 percent both in prostate and bladder
surgeries); robotic surgeries are generally less invasive, cause
less pain, require shorter hospital stays and allow faster
recoveries than conventional surgery. Robotic surgical systems are
increasingly being used for gynecologic, gastrointestinal,
cardiothoracic, pediatric and other urologic surgeries.
"The RoSS will have a major impact on improving surgical
outcomes," said Donald L. Trump, MD, president and chief executive
officer of RPCI. "The product's relevance will grow in direct
proportion to the acceptance and application of robot-assisted
surgery as a best practice around the world. The training that RoSS
provides will eventually translate into better quality of life for
thousands of patients."
For more than a decade, UB's Virtual Reality Lab has been one of
very few in the nation focused on developing haptic technologies --
technologies that bring a sense of touch to virtual reality. "Our
experience using computers to transmit accurately the real-time
feel and touch of surgery has enabled us to work with Roswell Park
to create a training system that provides a highly realistic
simulation of robotic surgery," said Kesavadas.
"This is a true collaboration that started between two
individuals with world-class skills in their respective areas,"
said Robert J. Genco, DDS, PhD, vice provost and director of UB's
Office of Science, Technology and Economic Outreach (STOR), which
assists in the commercialization of technologies developed by UB
"Hospitals don't invest in these multi-million-dollar robotic
surgery systems so that people can train on them," says John
Burgess, Simulated Surgical Systems, LLC, chief executive officer.
"Their most pressing need has been a good training environment for
The SUNY Research Foundation and Health Research, Inc., the
technology transfer arm of Roswell Park, jointly licensed the RoSS
technology to Simulated Surgical Systems, LLC. The company, which
employs several engineers who are highly skilled in developing
virtual simulation software for surgical applications, plans to
begin selling the RoSS by the end of 2010.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.
The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute is to understand,
prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the
first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer
Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the
only facility with this designation in upstate New York. The
institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive
Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation's leading cancer centers;
maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and
international collaborative programs. For more information, visit
RPCI's Web site at http://www.roswellpark.org or
call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.