Home Crop Monitoring How six cups of ground coffee can improve nose, throat surgery

How six cups of ground coffee can improve nose, throat surgery


The granular-jamming cap, left, in comparison with the present elastic headband that enables the pc to trace the place of a affected person’s head throughout endonasal surgery.

Credit score: Joe Howell, Vanderbilt College

Think about plopping six cups of coffee grounds on the heads of sufferers simply earlier than they’re wheeled into the working room to have nostril or throat surgery. In essence, that’s what a group of Vanderbilt College engineers are proposing in an effort to improve the reliability of the subtle “GPS” system that surgeons use for these delicate operations.

They’ve designed a “granular jamming cap” full of coffee grounds that does a greater job of monitoring affected person head actions than present strategies. They’re disclosing the novel design and knowledge on its effectiveness on the Worldwide Convention on Data Processing in Laptop-Assisted Interventions in Barcelona on June 20.

In fact, the coffee grounds usually are not free: they type a skinny layer inside a stretchy silicone headpiece, which seems one thing like a black latex swim cap embellished with reflective dots.

After the cap is positioned on the affected person’s head, it’s hooked up to a vacuum pump that sucks the air out of the cap, jamming the tiny grounds collectively to type a inflexible layer that conforms intently to the form of the affected person’s head. (This is identical impact that turns vacuum-packed coffee into strong bricks.)

Earlier than surgery, a particular scanner is used to map the situation of the dots relative to key options on the affected person’s head: a course of known as registration. Then, throughout surgery an overhead digital camera observes the place of the dots permitting the navigation system to precisely observe the place of the affected person’s head when the surgeon repositions it.

The pc makes use of this info to mix a CT scan, which supplies an in depth 3-D view of the bone and smooth tissue hidden contained in the affected person’s head, with the place of the devices the surgeon is utilizing and shows them collectively in actual time on a monitor within the working room.

“These are very delicate operations and a sophisticated image guidance system has been developed to help the surgeons, but they don’t trust the system because sometimes it is spot on and other times it is off the mark,” stated Robert Webster, affiliate professor of mechanical engineering and otolaryngology, who’s creating a surgical robotic designed particularly for endonasal surgery. “When we heard about this, we began wondering what was causing these errors and we decided to investigate.”

When Webster and his analysis group regarded into the matter, they had been stunned by what they discovered. They found it wasn’t the {hardware} or the software program within the steerage system that was inflicting the issue. It was the way in which the reflective markers had been hooked up to the affected person’s head that was at fault.

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Usually, these “fiducial markers” are hooked up by an elastic headband and double-backed tape and are topic to jarring and slipping. Their exams discovered that pores and skin motion and unintentional bumps by working room workers each produced massive monitoring errors.

“The basic assumption is that, after registration, the spatial relationships between the patient’s head and the fiducial markers remains constant,” stated Patrick Wellborn, the graduate pupil who’s making the presentation.

“Unfortunately, that is not the case. For one thing, studies have shown that the skin on a person’s forehead can move as much as a half an inch relative to the skull. And accidentally bumping or dragging cables over the headband can also produce significant targeting errors.”

The truth is, earlier analysis has discovered that when every thing goes properly, the steerage system produces concentrating on errors of about 2 millimeters however, in about one operation out of seven, the goal error is way bigger, forcing the surgeon to redo the registration course of.

“Actually, we do have a solution to this problem but it involves drilling and attaching the markers directly to the skull…which we don’t like to do because it is painful and it’s a step backwards from the majority of what we are doing,” stated Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology Paul Russell, who’s collaborating with the engineers on the mission So the group started pondering up various, non-invasive strategies to connect these crucial markers.

Webster recalled some experiments that had been completed utilizing coffee grounds to assist robots grip irregularly formed objects. Bladders full of coffee grounds had been constructed into the robotic’s gripper. When it grabbed an object, the bladders conformed to its form. Then a vacuum was pulled, the coffee grounds grew to become inflexible and locked the thing into place. The researchers determined to see if this method could possibly be utilized to the issue.

Within the final three years, they’ve gone via a quantity of designs. They started with headbands that had coffee-ground-filled luggage over the temples. Their exams confirmed that these fashions may scale back the concentrating on error by about 50 %. However the engineers nonetheless weren’t happy.

Then, Wellborn, who was taking on the mission, had a brainstorming session with fellow graduate pupil Richard Hendrick. Among the many supplies that his predecessor had left behind was a latex bald cap. “That sparked the idea of caps in general,” Wellborn recalled. “We wanted something elastic that was form fitting, which led to the idea of a swim cap.”

Along with becoming extraordinarily tightly to the pinnacle, the brand new design had one other benefit. The scarf system has solely three fiducial markers hooked up on the ends of three skinny rods to type a triangle. The brand new design allowed them to connect a number of dozen markers on to the floor of the cap, which the researchers imagine may also contribute to enhancing the steerage system’s accuracy.

They designed three exams to find out how properly this “granular jamming cap” carried out relative to the present headband in decreasing concentrating on error:

  • They “bumped” each them from a quantity of totally different instructions with a tennis ball full of plastic particles swinging on the tip of a string. They discovered that the cap lowered concentrating on errors by 83 %.
  • They simulated the case the place a cable or different piece of tools is by accident pushed in opposition to the 2 by making use of forces starting from 4 to six kilos in several instructions. They decided that the cap outperformed the scarf by 76 % when the forces had been utilized to the scarf and by 92 % after they had been utilized to the markers.
  • They examined the results of head repositioning by having an skilled surgeon reposition take a look at topics’ heads six to seven instances. On this case, the cap proved to have 66 % decrease error charges than the scarf.

On the energy of these outcomes, Vanderbilt College has utilized for a patent on the design and the know-how is on the market for licensing. ( events ought to contact the Vanderbilt Heart for Expertise Switch and Commercialization.)

“It’s a very clever way that doesn’t involve drilling holes in patients’ skulls to greatly improve the accuracy of the guidance system when we are operating in the middle of a person’s skull: a zone where the accuracy of the current system is inadequate,” stated Russell.

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