Piezoelectric tech for £6m ultrasonic surgery project
The five year ‘Surgery enabled by ultrasonics’ project is led by the University of Glasgow in Scotland, with researchers from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds and Southampton working together to take advantage of miniaturised ultrasonic tools for surgeons. These tools will use different principles to excite the surgical tip, using new dynamic structures for the tips and emerging piezocrystal materials with much higher energy density.
The devices will be delivered deep into the human body by the tentacles of new surgical robots. This will enable minimally-invasive surgeries, offering high precision, low force, low temperature and better preservation of delicate tissue structures. Ultimately, this will allow more procedures to be carried out in out-patient clinics or with day surgery.
“Many benefits will be delivered from new forms of ultrasonic tools. Traditional tools require surgeons to use high forces to cut through bone, for example, where an ultrasonic tool can be tuned to produce an effortless cut,” said Professor Margaret Lucas, the principal investigator on the project and Professor of Ultrasonics in Medical & Industrial Ultrasonics in Glasgow’s School of Engineering. “That tuning process also ensures that the ultrasonic device can be tissue selective, able to cut through one tissue without damage to others.
“Currently, ultrasonic surgical devices suffer from a lack of understanding of the beneficial and damaging effects of high power ultrasonic vibrations interacting with tissue,” she said. “My interdisciplinary research team of Engineers and Clinicians will overcome this by relating cell and tissue responses to the motion of ultrasound via ultra-high-speed imaging. The new understanding will aid the design of revolutionary new tools.”