Advancements in Magnetic Resonance-Guided Robotic Interventions in the Prostate

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides more detailed anatomical images of the prostate compared with the transrectal ultrasound imaging. Therefore, for the purpose of intervention in the prostate gland, diagnostic or therapeutic, MRI guidance offers a possibility of more precise targeting that may be crucial to the success of prostate interventions. However, access within the scanner is limited for manual instrument handling and the MR environment is most demanding among all imaging equipment with respect to the instrumentation used. A solution to this problem is the use of MR-compatible robots purposely designed to operate in the space and environmental restrictions inside the MR scanner allowing real-time interventions. Building an MRI-compatible robot is a very challenging engineering task because, in addition to the material restrictions that MRI instruments have, the robot requires actuators and sensors that limit the type of energies that can be used. Several important design problems have to be overcome before a successful MR-compatible robot application can be built. A number of MR-compatible robots, ranging from a simple manipulator to a fully automated system, have been developed, proposing ingenious solutions to the design challenge. Several systems have been already tested clinically for prostate biopsy and brachytherapy. As technology matures, precise image guidance for prostate interventions performed or assisted by specialized MR-compatible robotic devices may provide a uniquely accurate solution for guiding the intervention directly based on MR findings and feedback. Such an instrument would become a valuable clinical tool for biopsies directly targeting imaged tumor foci and delivering tumor-centered focal therapy.

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