Robots, simulators and smart implants: St. Joseph’s continues a 125-year legacy of surgical innovation

Aug. 29, 2012

Research performed in the new Surgical Mechatronics Laboratory at St. Joseph’s Hospital (St. Joseph’s) will include the use of computer-guided tracking systems, surgical simulators and robotic arms to develop devices and specialized training in surgical techniques.

Surgeons-in-training will perform procedures on cadavers using Mechatronics Lab simulators that can virtually reproduce surgeries and track the motion of their hands.

The lab’s tracking systems and robots will be used to develop new computer-aided technologies to help orthopaedic surgeons at St. Joseph’s Hand and Upper Limb Centre (HULC) in procedures such as joint replacement surgery. Computer-aided technology can provide more accurate implant placement, translating to better function and durability.

Surgical Mechatronics Lab

Smart implants (devices that can take readings of the body and relay that information back to a computer) will be developed in the Mechatronics Lab and eventually used in patient treatment. “These implants will further our understanding of how upper limbs work,” says Dr. Louis Ferreira co-director of the HULC Bioengineering and Mechatronics Laboratories.

“Research like this is paramount to the evolving world of health care and health care technology. There are many technologies and procedures that are currently being used in other areas of surgery such as cardiac and neurosurgery that could be modified for use in orthopaedics. What we develop in the Surgical Mechatronics Laboratory and apply to patient care in HULC, may ultimately help surgeons in smaller centres that do not currently have access to advanced equipment and may be used in operating rooms across the world,” adds co-director Dr. James Johnson.

Surgical Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that incorporates mechanics, electronics, computer science, and control theory.

Tribute Dinner

On Sept. 13, St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation will host its annual Tribute Dinner, which this year celebrates the proud surgical past and bright future of surgical innovation at St. Joseph’s. The evening will also include a special focus on the Hand and Upper Limb Centre’s direction in surgical mechatronics. The
event will honour the pioneers who helped establish St. Joseph’s national and international reputation in surgical care, and the resulting environment of innovation at St. Joseph’s that continues to advance the work of today’s “trailblazers” in the Hand and Upper Limb Centre. Among those to be honoured will be London’s Callaghan family, who has played an important role in the growth and development of patient care at St. Joseph’s over generations.

“Surgical innovation is very much a part of our work at St. Joseph’s, and has been for decades,” says Michelle Campbell, foundation president and CEO. “Tribute will showcase a tradition of innovation that will make Londoners proud that this level of specialty exists right in our own community.”


For more information:
Kelsi Break, Consultant
Communication & Public Affairs
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
519 646-6100 ext. 64792

Johanna Mesjarik
Communication Assistant
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation
519 646-6085 ext. 65449

From the opening of our first operating room in 1888 the unique culture of St. Joseph’s has supported our surgeons to push the boundaries of knowledge and practice, to be innovative and use technology to improve patient care. Our surgical past is filled with stories of innovation, leadership and groundbreaking discovery. Many St. Joseph’s surgical innovations have become the standard of care around the world. Today, surgeons at St. Joseph’s treat patients with; breast cancer, stomach and bowel disorders, eye disease, urological and gynecological disorders, hand an upper limb conditions, nerve damage and plastic surgery needs, ear, nose and throat disorders. More than 21,000 surgeries are performed a year. Our most recent investment in surgical technology was in the spring of 2012 with the purchase of a state-of-the-art daVinci robot. This nimble machine includes high-definition 3D imaging and has opened the door to many new procedures.

Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s is one of the best academic health care organizations in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. CARING FOR THE BODY, MIND & SPIRIT SINCE 1869

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