The Robotics Institute

RI | Seminar | Nov 9 2007

Robotics Institute Seminar, Nov 9, 2007
Time and Place | Seminar Abstract | Speaker Biography | Speaker Appointments

Fixing the Beating Heart: Ultrasound Guidance for Robotic Intracardiac Surgery


Robert D. Howe

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


Time and Place


Mauldin Auditorium (NSH 1305 )

Talk 3:30 pm




To treat defects within the heart, surgeons currently use stopped-heart techniques. These procedures are highly invasive and incur a significant risk of neurological impairment. We are developing methods for performing surgery within the heart while it is beating. New real-time 3-D ultrasound imaging allows visualization through the opaque blood pool, but this imaging modality poses difficult image processing challenges due to poor resolution, acoustic artifacts, and data rates of 30 to 40 million voxels per second. To track instruments within the heart we have developed a Radon transform-based algorithm. Implementation using a graphics processor unit (GPU) enables real-time processing of the ultrasound data stream. For manipulation of rapidly moving cardiac tissue we have created a fast robotic device that can track the tissue based on ultrasound image features. This allows the surgeon to interact with the heart as if it was stationary. Our in vitro studies show that this approach enhances dexterity and lowers applied forces. To complete integration of ultrasound imaging with the robotic device we have developed a predictive controller that compensates for the imaging and image processing delays to ensure good tracking performance. We will present applications of this technology in atrial septal defect closure and mitral valve annuloplasty procedures, demonstrating the potential for improved patient outcomes.



Speaker Biography


Robert D. Howe is Gordon McKay Professor of Engineering in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Dr. Howe founded the Harvard BioRobotics Laboratory in 1990, which investigates the roles of sensing and mechanical design in motor control, in both humans and robots. His research interests focus on manipulation, the sense of touch, and human-machine interfaces. Biomedical applications of this work include the development of robotic and image-guided approaches to minimally invasive surgical procedures. Dr. Howe earned a bachelors degree in physics from Reed College, then worked as a design engineer in the electronics industry in Silicon Valley. He received a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 1990, and then joined the faculty at Harvard. 



Speaker Appointments


For appointments, please contact Metin Sitti (

The Robotics Institute is part of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.