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Simulator for Robotic Surgery Training

The RoSS simulator was developed by Thenkurussi (“Kesh”) Kesavadas, PhD, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB, right; and surgeon Khurshid Guru, MD, director of the Center for Robotic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The RoSS, a “flight simulator for surgeons,” addresses the rapidly growing need for realistic training in robot-assisted surgery.

One of the world’s first simulators to closely approximate the “touch and feel” of the da Vinci™ robotic surgical system was developed through a collaboration between the Center for Robotic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

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.

However, such a surgical system, like an aircraft, is only as good as the pilot, and the training required for proficiency in robot-assisted surgery has been insufficient.

The Robotic Surgical Simulator, or RoSS—which debuted in 2010—addresses the rapidly growing need for a realistic training environment for robot-assisted surgery, a field that is expanding exponentially and is expected to constitute a significant number of all surgeries by 2015.

“Think of the RoSS as a flight simulator for surgeons,” explains Thenkurussi (“Kesh”) Kesavadas, PhD, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB and head of its Virtual Reality Lab.

Kesavadas co-invented the RoSS with Khurshid A. Guru, MD, director of the Center for Robotic Surgery at RPCI.

“Until RoSS, surgeons did not have sufficient opportunities outside of the operating room to gain extensive training in robotic techniques,” says Guru, whose own surgical expertise has made RPCI’s robotics program a Center of Excellence and a world leader in physician training in robotics.

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.

UB’s Virtual Reality Lab is one of very few such labs in the nation to focus 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 is what enabled us to work with Roswell Park to create a training system that provides a highly realistic simulation of robotic surgery,” says Kesavadas.

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.