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Digant Dave

High-tech Surgery

Surgery is getting a high-tech upgrade, thanks to researchers at UT Arlington.

Bioengineering Assistant Professor Digant Davé and his team have received federal funding to create a multifunctional, image-guided surgical platform. MIGS integrates a high-resolution, depth-resolved optical imaging system, a laser scalpel, a motorized positioning system, software, and a control system-all on a single platform.

"Imagine a joystick with which the surgeon can position the imager and scalpel at the right location to see buried tissue layers and perform surgery," Dr. Davé says. "The joystick will enable the surgeon to position the imaging probe and the laser scalpel at the desired location for imaging and laser cutting."

Davé has secured two grants totaling $614,000 from the National Institutes of Health to complete the MIGS platform.

"The whole device has a footprint of one square inch and length of one and a half to two inches," he says. That's no larger than a small Post-It note. "Since the MIGS platform is being developed for tissue adhesion in the abdominal cavity, further miniaturization is not necessary."

Many patients who have had surgeries, radiation treatments, tumors, or inflammation have adhesion between different tissues, leaving surgeons without the normal tissue plane guidance needed to identify various organs. This makes surgery risky.

MIGS will allow surgeons to see through scar tissue, then use a laser to cut. "This technology is going to make surgery better for patients," Davé says. Since a laser scalpel is being used, the entire process is less invasive, which means a quicker recovery time.

The imaging system, which is the core component, has been built and tested.

"We have demonstrated that the imaging system can clearly identify scar tissue," Davé says. "We know from the work of others that lasers can be used for precisely cutting tissue with minimal collateral damage. We also have built the micro-positioning system for other applications. With the grant money, we want to put all the components in one integrated package."

Davé expects to complete the MIGS platform in the two years covered by the funding grants. Once there's a working prototype, he'll show it to potential investors.

The project is being conducted at UT Arlington's Optical Medical Imaging Laboratories in the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. UT Southwestern chief of gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery Dr. Edward Livingston, UT Arlington bioengineering Professor Liping Tang, and Virginia Tech Professor Shashank Priya are collaborating. Dr. Priya's lab will build the motorized positioning system for the image scanner and laser scalpel from miniature components.

multifunctional image-guided surgical platform

MIGS will allow surgeons to see through scar tissue, then use a laser to cut. "This technology is going to make surgery better for patients," Davé says. Since a laser scalpel is being used, the entire process is less invasive, which means a quicker recovery time.

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