October 24, 2003

Contact:
Debbie Neufert
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 74772

New national research and training centre will revolutionize surgery

(LONDON, Ontario) CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics) announced today that it has moved into a new state of the art facility. CSTAR is Canada's national centre for developing and testing the next generation of minimally invasive surgical technologies and techniques, including robotics.

CSTAR occupies the top two levels of the new $12 million Legacy Research Pavilion at the University Campus of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). CSTAR is a collaborative research program of London Health Sciences Centre and the Lawson Health Research Institute, and is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario.

"CSTAR is a leader in research, development and training to advance patient care," says Dr. Joseph Gilbert, chief administrative officer of the Lawson Health Research Institute. Gilbert says, "CSTAR is the first in the world to bring together interdisciplinary teams that include engineers, computer scientists, information technologists and researchers who will work with surgeons to discover new frontiers in minimally invasive surgery."

The new facility features testing and training labs equipped with the latest tools for minimally invasive surgery, including 3 dimensional imaging, computer assisted surgery and surgical robots, such as the four-armed da Vinci robot, which is the first in Canada and only one of 11 in the world. Other features include an engineering testing lab, a 3D multimedia lecture theatre, an idea development lab to facilitate computer assisted design and the development of prototypes, and a telesurgery studio that will enable a surgeon in London, Ontario to mentor a surgeon at a remote location or perform surgery on a patient in another part of the world.

"Without the generous support of more than $18 million from our many funding partners and private donors including Richard and Beryl Ivey, CSTAR would not be here today," says Tony Dagnone, president and chief executive officer of LHSC. Dagnone says, "By funding our research and equipment, our partners have paved the way for our highly skilled team of surgeons and scientists to advance patient care to the next generation and beyond."

CSTAR's research will initially be focused on six areas - robotic assisted cardiac surgery and interventional cardiology, robotic cancer therapy and thoracic surgery, atrial fibrillation, fetal robotic surgery, telementoring and telesurgery, and robotic haptics to design the next generation of surgical robots.

"CSTAR's research will merge new advances in science, technology, and surgical skill to revolutionize the way surgery will be done, benefiting patients and surgeons," says Dr. Richard Novick, chief of cardiac surgery, and project leader of robotics research grants at CSTAR. Novick says, "For patients, minimally invasive surgery means improved outcomes, quicker recovery times, and less scarring. It also has potential to provide substantial cost savings to the health care system."

Funding for CSTAR is provided in part by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Ontario Innovation Trust (OIT), and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF), as well as the London Health Sciences Foundation, private sector partners, and research funding from Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre.

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A webcast of CSTAR's official opening will be available at CSTAR's Web site at http://www.c-star.ca beginning Tuesday, October 28, 2003. The webcast is sponsored by Bell Canada.

It will include keynote speaker Dr. Richard Satava, professor of surgery at the University of Washington Medical Centre, as well as remarks from Dave Williams, an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency.

CSTAR - Fact sheet

  • CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics) is Canada's national centre for developing and testing the next generation of minimally invasive surgical technologies and techniques, including robotics.

  • CSTAR is a collaborative research program of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and Lawson Health Research Institute (LHRI), and is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario.

  • CSTAR is based in London, Ontario. CSTAR occupies the top two levels of the Legacy Research Pavilion, a new five-storey research building at the University Campus of London Health Sciences Centre, completed in Fall 2003. Infrastructure cost is $12 million.

  • CSTAR is the first interdisciplinary research and training facility in the world to bring together practitioners, students, and researchers in surgery, engineering, imaging, robotics, information technology, and business.

  • CSTAR has currently attracted $18.2 million in project funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust and the Ontario Research & Development Challenge Fund.

  • Current projects include: Robotic-Assisted Interventional Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery; Robotic Cancer Therapy and Thoracic Surgery; Telesurgery; Robotics Haptics; Atrial Fibrillation; Fetal Robotic Surgery.

  • To date, CSTAR project teams have performed more than 386 cardiac, thoracic, urologic, and general surgery robotic procedures and continue to pioneer world firsts. On January 6, 2003, Dr. Patrick Luke, LHSC urologist and surgical director of renal transplantation, performed Canada's first robotic pyeloplasty using the three-armed ZEUS® robot.

  • Teams have completed over 15 surgical telementoring cases with remote navigation of the robotic camera arm and telestration between LHSC campuses, London to Toronto and London to Oslo, Norway.

  • In September 1999, a surgical team at LHSC led by Dr. Doug Boyd performed the world's first robotic, closed-chest (totally endoscopic), single coronary artery bypass surgery on a beating heart. This procedure is revolutionizing cardiac surgery worldwide.

  • In February 2001, surgeons at LHSC performed the world's first SOCRATES™ Telecollaborative System-assisted robotic surgery using remote manipulation of the robotic camera arm, telestration and video conferencing.

  • CSTAR will create over 50 industrial jobs in eight years and over 50 institutional jobs and studentships in three years. Projected commercialization of new technologies and techniques will contribute a minimum of $30 million over eight years to provincial and local economies.

  • Using robotics can dramatically improve patient outcomes and surgeon ability:

    • smaller incisions (5mm) result in less tissue damage, scarring and blood loss.

    • patients recover more quickly, returning to daily activities and work much sooner.

    • surgeons operate with greater precision: robotics eliminate natural hand tremor, increase range of motion, and enhance visualization during surgery.

    • because of their minute size, robotic arms/instruments can reach where the human hand cannot.

Definitions

Telementoring - Using advanced communications technology, an expert surgeon at a remote location can mentor a second surgeon in an operating room anywhere. The expert surgeon can control the field of view (move the camera arm), from set up and port placement, including telestration, through the entire procedure.

Telestration - An illustrative technique that allows a remote surgeon to use a drawing tablet to make marks on the local surgeon's video monitor. Both the remote surgeon and the surgeon with the patient have the exact same view of the surgical site. The remote surgeon can draw on the tablet to show where to make an incision or can highlight a tumour mass, for example.

Telesurgery - Surgery, actual cutting and sewing, performed by a surgeon at a console remote from the patient. Advanced communications technology allows the surgeon to manipulate endoscopic cameras and surgical robots to perform the surgery, while remote from the operating room. Both the remote surgeon and the surgical team with the patient have the exact same view of the surgical site.

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